On Remembrance Day 2021 let’s not forget a generation of Veterans.
On 11 November we pause to reflect those who came before us and made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their nation.
Remembrance Day 2021 will be different from many of those past and in many ways similar. In scenes reminiscent of North Vietnamese tanks rolling through Saigon, when the Taliban overran Kabul the world was confronted with images of desperate crowds vying for a chance to escape through Harmid Karzai International Airport. Subsequently, we are burdened with heavy hearts in our current geopolitical landscape.
Whilst most may take the time to reflect on the horrible loss of life in the muddy fields of the Somme or desperate stands at places like Kapyong or Tobruk, many will be reflecting on places like Chora or Derapet.
The war in Afghanistan affected everyone close to those deployed. Whilst it might not have seen the scale of battles of the First World War, the operational tempo has resulted in our society being littered with a generation of veterans from Afghanistan/East Timor/Iraq and numerous other places. These veterans within our society do not fit the typical mould of what one may perceive a veteran to be in its standard context, on the contrary many appear to be typical young to middle aged men and women that are doing their best to carry on with their lives.
After spending more than 8 years with the Australian Regular Army, Remembrance Day will be an opportunity for myself to reflect on the mates that I have lost and those that are physically or mentally scarred from their experiences. I will take the time to mourn; and share stories with friends and family about those that I spent my early adulthood alongside.
I will ensure that my children grow up learning of people like Sapper Rowan Robinson, how their father came to know him through Kapooka to the Jungles of Malaysia and how his smile could light up a room. But whose life would be cut tragically short in a raid on a Taliban munitions cache.
More of my friends would be physically scarred from their time deployed or through training injuries. A great deal more would be doomed to spend the rest of their lives waking up from nightmares and re-living their experiences.
Having met older veterans of the Second World War, I am burdened with the knowledge that many of my friends who have returned home in body but never in soul will carry their experiences with them for a lifetime.
I encourage everyone to look into their own family history and significant events that past relatives may have witnessed, ask a college about an aspect of the military that you might not understand or engage with a Veteran charity to see how you can help. It is by engaging with the veteran community that we can ensure those effected by their service are not lost in the footnotes of history.
Remember the fallen, but don’t forget the living.
Chris joined the Australian Regular Army in 2006 as a Combat Engineer. In 2009 Chris graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon as an officer within the Royal Australian Engineers. Chris’ military experience took him to Malaysia, Singapore and Papua New Guinea where he was involved in a number of projects contributing towards regional security capabilities.
You can read more of Chris story here in the AMCHAM newsletter.