Sixty something: We need more gratitude for people who serve our country

Hello sixty somethings. Today I was watching an old episode of JAG. Remember that series? Suddenly I found myself crying.
Opinion

Hello sixty somethings. Today I was watching an old episode of JAG. Remember that series? Suddenly I found myself crying. This particular episode was about a young marine who had been killed in action and the way his mother and sister reacted to his killing as opposed to the way the press reacted and sensationalised it. Nothing unusual you would say, but I found myself going from mildly interested to watching intently. It wasn’t the acting or that the story wasn’t similar to many stories we have heard and seen. It wasn’t that I am overly interested in war stories. I really can’t explain why this particular story made me sit up and take notice, but suddenly I was crying. I silently cried for the best part of the story as I watched this drama unfold.

I tried hard not to cry but eventually gave into it. After it was over, I sat and thought about the story. Yes it was fictional and yes it was about Americans, but yes, it was a story we all should watch, a story of how war affects us all. How war affects the soldier, the mother, the father and the sister. How war affects the public and how war makes idiots sometimes out of some of the media. How war of any kind affects affects all of us in one way or another.

It got me thinking. Firstly about Tasmania’s senator Jacqui Lambie, a senator who speaks without worrying what people will think of her. She is a senator who puts herself in the direct line of fire for those out there who wish to shoot her down. She was however, a soldier. She may not have had to go to war, but when she joined the army, I am sure it was with the knowledge of one day she might.  Now, thanks to this fictional episode of JAG, I understand why she fights so valiantly for the right of veterans.

It also got me thinking about my brother and his best friend. They have been like brothers since meeting when they joined the army at the tender age of 17. My brother spent six years in service and his friend quite a few more. His friend lost an arm in a peaceful exercise before he left the armed forces. To this day, they are friends and defend the Australian Armed Forces fiercely. However, they are appalled at the behaviour of some of this countries defenders against their own, especially what some women have had to endure. I have a feeling though that they are not surprised. To those offenders, I think you need to watch this episode of JAG. You may then remember why you are wearing that uniform.

This episode of JAG made me remember my grandfather. He was a light horseman. He wouldn’t talk about his days in the army much. He did once or twice comment on the time he had to abandon his horse for a camel, but never went into specifics. I believe he would have cried right along with me today.

JAG also made me remember the day my friends and I waved goodbye to young men from Alice Springs, young men our own age who had been drafted and were off to Vietnam. I have lost touch with most those who returned over the years, but I remember. I remember how handsome they looked in uniform and how proud they were. I also remember when some of them returned. They were so different. Not the happy boys we knew but men, sad and older than their years.

This JAG episode ended with a few words on the screen. They were simple and to the point. I quote, “In gratitude to those who serve and in sorrow for those who lost their lives”. Perhaps we all should remember this, not just on Anzac Day, not when we see a sad war story, not when we hear about negative behaviour or how much it costs to keep our armed forces alive. Certainly not when we get a young woman who is not a seasoned politician, fighting not just for the soldier, but for all Australians. Perhaps we need to teach our children what war, any kind of war, any kind of banner does, while they are still children, before life interferes. Mostly perhaps we should always remember that freedom comes at an enormous cost. Lest We Forget.

Share your thoughts below.

  1. ian  

    The song The Eve of Destruction ,Keeps coming back to me every time i see Young Diggers .

  2. Unice Smith  

    I remember, our neighbours lost their eldest son in an ambush in Vietnam, I remember my own brother who went to Vietnam how different he was when he came back, the backlash they received when they came home. They did their duty to ur country perhaps if we stopped and think what they have done for us and what we have because of them. Maybe people will think twice before they let their mouth run off with a load of garbage.

  3. Lesley Court  

    When I attend ANZACS Day Marches these days , I cheer for our returned diggers, then burst into tears as our modern Army marches past. You see , once my husband was a man who stood up straight , looking strong, just like these young people. He served in Vietnam and was proud to do so . As we were all very proud of him. These days , when he does leave the house, it’s in a wheelchair. His mind doesn’t work well, his back is crumbling ( you try sleeping on the ground or in the wet) and he doesn’t like crowds. Always turns up for ANZAC Day though now it’s to watch his grandchildren march for their school. I know what will happen to those straight heroic people and my heart cries out to them.

  4. Lesley Court  

    When I attend ANZACS Day Marches these days , I cheer for our returned diggers, then burst into tears as our modern Army marches past. You see , once my husband was a man who stood up straight , looking strong, just like these young people. He served in Vietnam and was proud to do so . As we were all very proud of him. These days , when he does leave the house, it’s in a wheelchair. His mind doesn’t work well, his back is crumbling ( you try sleeping on the ground or in the wet) and he doesn’t like crowds. Always turns up for ANZAC Day though now it’s to watch his grandchildren march for their school. I know what will happen to those straight heroic people and my heart cries out to them.

  5. Bill Green  

    My son is an officer in the army who has done 2 deployments in the Middle East, 1 in Iraq and 1 in Afghanistan.
    He is soon to do his third deployment. He is now 31 years old with 11 years service and in a command position.
    My wife an I do not look forward to these overseas deployments but we are resigned to the fact that this is what he chosen as his career.
    We are extremely proud of him and what he does in the service of his country. In these times of the Me Generation when most young people think only of what is in it for them I am proud that my son has chosen to serve his country. When he leaves the army he will definitely have earned his right to live here and all the benefits that brings.

  6. Jan  

    My Son was also in the Army. I admire any of the Men and Women that have been in the Services and have shown dedication to Australia to have kept all of us safe. I have Grandchildren in the forces now Air and Navy. I am so very Proud of all of them. I would like to see the Cadets brought back into Schools that would help in bringing todays children having much more respect of people and things. It is a sorry state of affairs that Australia is in at the moment and something needs to be done to correct this. Any young person that goes into the Forces comes out a better person for the experience. Not saying that in the case of deployment to war zones. Lord knows how they may return and every effort should be made to assist and help those in Need.

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