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This ANZAC Day

Hearing about the war in Ukraine, it brings home more than ever this ANZAC Day the awfulness of war and what it was like for our boys fighting and for those waiting at home in earlier times.

I’ve been reading some of the letters sent home from young men fighting in the trenches. Like many in Ukraine, they didn’t really want to fight but they were doing their bit for their people and their country. They felt homesick and were longing for their sisters, brothers, and parents back home. Those letters helped fill the emptiness for those waiting and reached their destination thanks to the mates who collected them and the diligent people who delivered them by land, sea and even by stagecoach.

It is emotional for me to think of the hole in life when someone is away. In a small way, I experience that when my sons are down in NSW for a few weeks where we have had sheep agisting during the drought. I can imagine then what it was like for the folks in Longreach when the young men went off to war. Dad and Mum were left to run the farm and, in the worst case, if the sons didn’t come home, it would have felt as if it was all for nothing.

I hope reflecting on these difficult times of recent COVID separations and distant wars will make us all grateful for the country we have, the people who fought for it and the people we have around us. I think we have learnt over the past couple of years how much we need each other for the everyday challenges and that we should never take our families and mates for granted. I believe this COVID time has helped draw us back together again. I find there’s more mateship between city visitors and ourselves in Longreach these past couple of years. Those who visit are doing so because they want to see their country, understand its history and meet their fellow country-folks here in the outback.

Our Aussie mateship wins through whether it’s on the battlefield or in an everyday approach of kindness and helping out. We’re made up of many nationalities but I like to think we share that caring attitude and really look out for each other when times are tough.

Finally, I’ll be thinking of those at the dawn services who experienced war themselves and may still remember mates who didn’t come home. Lest we forget.

Richard Kinnon