Senator Joyce writes for the Canberra Times:
Freedoms a monument to those who put lives on the line
The focus at the centre of our major capitals is the sacred remembrance of those who offered so much for us all.
Those who walk past or make it the venue of their early morning run see the cenotaph and maybe think of why it is that we can enjoy the freedoms we do – liberty of expression, freedom of religion, rights of ownership, the benefactions of a compassionate state.
I believe that the vast majority of Australians associate the uniform of our serving members as a mark of honour.
Honour because they represent so many others who sacrifice alternate careers and place their life on the line for us and our nation.
In a time where the horrors of war are brought basically unsanitised to our living room on the nightly news there is little glamour that previous generations could weave about the engagement in active service in a foreign conflict.
The stark reality of the risk taken by our servicemen and women has of recent years made Australians more respectful of a job many would be uncomfortable, terrified or totally unable to do. It is for this reason getting up for the dawn service or going to the march is the very least we can do.
More salient is the memory of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. People who walked the same streets, saw the same hills, loved with a similar heart and yet met a fate that they were prepared for, yet devastated those who at home waited for their return. They did it because they loved their country.
Another crucial piece in our nation’s psychic riddle, a part that is a slight mystery to the foreigner who is generally engaged with the open book, friendly- look Australia, is the small-town war memorial where no battle has ever been fought and sometimes the marble monument where there is no town at all: the obelisk opposite the Walcha Road Hotel, the covered area on the side of the hill in Stanthorpe, the honour board at Woolbrook Public School.
The nation for a day is a memorial to the memory of those who have served and tragically met a fate that they knew was present.
The monument to other’s sacrifice is the court, the hospital, the parliament and the vote you have to select it, our way of life, our Australian culture.
It is not the natural course that we have the life we have in Australia – it has been paid for with the greatest price of our servicemen and women and the allies who have stood beside us.
In St George, the Pilots’ Memorial is dedicated to Flight Sergeant Leonard Waters, the first Aboriginal fighter pilot and Squadron Leader John Jackson, who, another nation named its international airport after. In Benalla, Edward “Weary” Dunlop, was an epitome of accomplishment. He led an exemplary life which he offered to our nation, a life challenged by the savagery and privations of the appalling conditions of being a prisoner of war.
Every town, district and suburb has their story which today is our memory and our identity. There is the iconography of the emu plumes in the slouch hat of Australian Light Horse and the Hunter River Lancers who have served Australia since the Boer War with a detachment mustered from the towns around Tamworth.
We, as a nation, are blessed that there is no fascination of the historical turmoils of a civil war, as we have remained with a peace within our shores which is a peculiarity to only a few countries and no other continents.
Families, though, treasure the knowledge of forebears who served where the requirement was to seek out and close with the enemy.
For me, my thoughts on this day naturally rest with those of my family who have served and for those on my paternal grandmother’s side who have passed away.
Specifically I will also think of Corporal Scott Smith and Sapper James Martin. I will remember Private Robert Poate, Lance Corporal Stjepan Milosevic, Lance Corporal Mervyn McDonald, Private Nathanel Galagher and Sergeant Blaine Diddams.
I will think of their families their partners, wives and children. I will feel a sense of guilt that they have lost but I have benefited because I stayed at home with my wife and kids.