Remembrance Day! This is a day of tribute to all our veterans. How is the Royal Commission into veterans and their survival proceeding? I shall keep on reading, thinking that it is never too late to improve the lot of our veterans.
Now in my golden years, I can remember Remembrance Day. When I was very young, my quiet ex-soldier father would dress head to foot in his khaki uniform. Mother annually tried to throw this gear in the bin, but Dad always reclaimed it all.
In his army clobber, my dad would spend Remembrance Day sitting in silence in his shed, which was his own space. For some strange reason, his three bossy daughters knew never to interrupt.
He must have been internalising all the horrors of his own survival, as a veteran of New Guinea jungle combat. Dad contracted malaria at one stage, so his body weight reduced to about six stone (38kg). The army patched him up and sent him back to the front lines.
Remembrance Day in the 1950s. After a silent lunch, Dad, in his khaki, would wander round the backyard. He would use his spade as bayonet, beheading some of the daisies. We all crept indoors.
The next day, Dad would wake up as normal, thinking, “OMG, daisies.” He would then replant more flowers in the garden. Eventually, all his sad memories of his mates and days in the Australian Defence Force must have faded. His life went on. Mum finally got rid of that khaki uniform.
In later years, he could view Anzac Day parades, but never shared their stories of the years from 1939-1945. That is how one veteran survived.
On Remembrance Day, we can recall an uncle who came home to spend life as a TPI, (totally and permanently incapacitated). He passed away very young, in the Repatriation Hospital. He did not survive long due to the dreadful privations he had experienced in armed conflict in the tropics.
Legacy brought up our uncle’s children. What did the ADF do for his widow? Not too much at all.
All that era has faded away into our memory banks, of very brave fathers. They battled for our Australian way of life, freedom and democracy. They longed to arrive home in Australia to make peace for us all.
On Remembrance Day, we remember the courage of the veterans. That is a good call, having a Royal Commission, trying to amend the future of veterans who survive their tours of duty. It is never too late! Let’s remember our vets!