BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. Recently I was privileged to participate in the ANZAC DAY memorial service at the National Memorial Cemetery here in Honolulu. The National Memorial Cemetery has been honored to host this service for our Comrades in Arms for several years.
Certainly for us veterans, this represents a wonderful recognition of the sacrifice of Aussies who have given their lives or suffered in the cause of peace.
In Australia, on ANZAC Day at Masses, Australians will hear from the book of Wisdom the assurance that “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, they are now in peace” and “Justice will flourish in God’s time and fullness of peace forever”.
The Gospel from St John will remind us of Jesus’ words of encouragement, “Peace I leave you, my peace I give to you … Do not be troubled or afraid”.
These words have particular significance for the veterans in both Australia and America in our communities and with our families, for they bring comfort and meaning to the arduous service they have provided and must continue to provide.
Australia and America have now had substantial number of troops deployed for an unprecedented 14 continuous years.
From their very first deployment the young men and women of both of our countries have come home with maturity and wisdom beyond their years, and greatly enhanced skills in leadership, management and conflict resolution.
They have heightened sense of the need for justice for all, and you won’t find stronger advocates for promoting peace and harmony in our world.
They have a lot to offer our nation in years to come.
The National Memorial Cemetery is a fitting place to hold this ceremony. Punchbowl as it is known to the locals is a “living” memorial with the continually growing trees reflecting the soldier’s belief in ongoing, eternal life beyond death, but also living in and through the care of a band of veteran’s who lovingly care for the memorial and the over 55000 veterans and their spouses who are at rest there. As well they help to facilitate memorial services such as the ANZAC Day service.
Attending a ANZAC day service is a deeply moving spiritual experience, as one contemplates the sacrifice that so many have made in the quest for restoring and keeping the peace in the many troubled places in the world that our troops have been called upon to serve in.
An accompanying consequence of service on peacemaking or peacekeeping operations has been an aftermath of dealing with the effects of trauma both physically and mentally.
Sadly, when troops come home from the war Australian and American, the war often comes home with them. Many of our veterans have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Anti-depressant drugs and counseling are not quite enough to ameliorate the consequences of service in conflict resolution. Spiritual solace is also needed.
The playing of the Last Post, the Silence, and the Reveille, is itself a powerful symbolism of the hopeful movement from the pain of Good Friday through to the joy of Easter Sunday that is so necessary for the healing of veterans from the wounds they have suffered.
The support and appreciation of the wider community, especially the Church community is very much needed in helping veterans re-integrate into Australian and American society.
Supporting and participating in ANZAC Day services is a very practical contribution that we can make.
It helps our veterans American and Australian remember that their sacrifices have not been in vain, and they are appreciated, and that “we will remember them”.
Lest We Forget.
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.