Many years ago as a young child accompanying my parents, we approached an unguarded voting box on election day with no fear of intimidation or death.
CAPTION: Members of Overwatch Battle Group–West get ready to participate in an ANZAC Day at a Dawn Service at Talil, Iraq, 2008. Photo by Brian Hartigan.
The possibility of real change could be made to rid ourselves of incompetent governments while dictatorship was unknown.
Today in many countries there is no voting, while in others, bombings, shootings and death are part of the election process.
In Australia some of us vote because it is compulsory.
But I see it as a gift not a burden, paid for in blood, sweat and tears by the veterans we honour on ANZAC Day.
In too many countries law and order takes second place to tribalism and religious extremism.
Here we tend to accept other people’s religious beliefs, while they do not.
Here women and girls are respected, the sick and the old are cared for – even the animals are treated better.
Thankfully, real poverty is unknown; as there is help available from charities and government.
In some count services like garbage removal, mail delivery, water and electricity are unreliable at best; non-existent in others.
I have learnt that freedom is more than just the right to vote. Freedom from hunger, freedom from oppression and from anarchy, tolerance and good stable governance – that is real freedom.
Freedom is also about a community that is stronger because of its differences and the ideal of the ‘fair go’.
Australia was such a place when I was growing up and I believe it still is.
I have also learnt that real heroes are not sports professionals, movie stars or celebrities. They are not always individuals that do one well-published act.
My heroes were the soldiers who patrolled outside the wire day every day. They provided protection for both civilian and military personnel.
To me these warriors are the real heroes, for they constantly exposed themselves to those that would bring chaos and harm to all.
Some paid the price for their bravery and it was an honour to serve with them.
ANZAC Day, also makes me think of Aussie service personnel, some young, others older, both men and women, first Australians and some very new citizens to Australia.
I remember one bloke had a name that was too hard to pronounce. Luckily it started with A and finished with Z, so in the good-old Aussie way he was nicknamed “AtoZ”.
I did not know their religion or their sexual preferences – and it didn’t matter as long as they did their jobs.
Some were exposed to more danger than others, but all were at risk.
Some broke the rules and were punished under the same ADF law, for they are all serving our country, under one law and one flag.
This is the best of Australia I have experienced.
Lest WE Forget.
Peter Rewko spent 33 years in the Regular and Reserve Army, and deployed overseas on exercises and operations, including Iraq in 2008. He was in the Cavalry for the majority of that time. He is still married after 25 years, with two adult sons. He lives in Beaudesert, Queensland.