ANZAC Day 2008

The 25th of April is ANZAC Day and it is a national holiday in Australia. ANZAC stands for Australian & New Zealand Army Corp, and was the designation given to the combined force that participated in the Gallipoli campaign during World War I. Many Australians believe, as do I, that the ANZAC spirit, and mate-ship that occurred during this conflict, is what defines us as a nation today.

My children and I attended the Dawn Service here in Melton, and it was the biggest crowd I have seen at this event to date. Each year the crowds at the service get larger and more and more of the younger generation take the time to get out of bed early in the morning (the service started at 0545) on one day a year to honour those that fought and died for our country. ANZAC day is not a glorification of war, but a sombre reminder of the courage and ultimate sacrifice that many good men and women have made whilst participating and continue to participate in conflicts around the globe.

We all arrived well before the crowd, because it was Ben’s first time at the service. I wanted to make sure that he got to see all of the action around the cenotaph and could see the people speaking. He learn yesterday at school, what ANZAC day was for, and apparently he told me that at assembly yesterday, they had a mini service with the playing of the last post and singing of the national anthem. That was a good thing for the school to instigate.

The dignitaries at the service were the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard (she is our local MP), our State MP, Don Narella, and the Presidents of the RSL Sub-branch and the Vietnam Veterans association. Julia gave a very well received speech, and I could tell that it was from the heart and was well rehearsed. She had no notes, which impressed me, and her oration was moving. The rest of the service went very well and was a fitting tribute to our fallen service men and women. The gunfire breakfast back at the RSL was nice and the meal was a gold coin donation which consisted of a sausage, egg and some bacon, with free tea and coffee. Adam bought the first shout, and we had a beer each. When it was my turn to shout, I didn’t cost me a cent, because as I was wearing my medals, veterans were served for free. Adam was mightily pissed off, so I told him to join up if it was that important to him, which quickly shut him up.

Not wanting to taint the ANZAC spirit, I saw one ironic moment during the service that I must share. The police had blocked off the road that runs past the cenotaph and did not let anyone through. All vehicles refused, excepting one. A petrol tanker! It reminded me of a period of my life that I have reflected upon many times. Let me tell you about it.

I was a sailor in the Royal Australian Navy and performed 20 years of service, reaching the rank of Chief Petty Officer, of which I am very proud. I also served on the HMAS Adelaide in 1990/91 during the first Gulf War conflict and was part of the liberation of Kuwait. It was a scary time, and even though I am glad I went, and returned safely, I would not wish the experience upon anyone. The R.A.N. was involved in the conflict, as part of a Multi-National force that were enforcing United Nations resolutions 660 to 665. We patrolled the Arabian Sea and part of the Persian Gulf and stopped Iraqi merchant vessels and searched for weapons and contraband that were in breach of the UN resolution. Our biggest threat were not the Iraqi Navy, but the thousands of sea mines that they had laid in the Gulf. Needless to say, it was the first time in Australian history that all combatants returned home from the conflict without a single loss of life.

I do not, nor did not get involved in any of the politics of the first Gulf War, and did not learn the ulterior motive behind the scenes (besides the liberation of Kuwait) until well after the conflict. Whilst on-board ship, we were blocked off from the media coverage that was going on all around us, and we just got on with our jobs. I received the Australian Service Medal (Kuwait clasp) for my part in the conflict, and I wear it with pride on each and every ANZAC Day.

However, now that much water has passed under the bridge (18 years in fact), and that Australians are still involved in the second Gulf War, under somewhat dubious pretences, I cannot help but think that both of these conflicts are related to one thing, and one thing only. And that one thing is OIL, and that these two conflicts were none other than the greedy protection of this asset that makes our western civilisation run. As Peak Oil has now hit, with demand out stripping supply, and with proof that oil prices are continuing to rise, and that reflects at the petrol pump, I cannot help think that I maybe correct. Recent media attention to the subject has been rife. Even predictions of long, drawn out conflicts to secure global oil reserves in the guise of climate change, or some other trumped up excuse like the “Axis of Evil”, or Weapons of Mass Destruction are flooding the media. I do not want any of my sons, or daughters having to or being forced to join up to fight in another global conflict, when all of this is avoidable.

There are many sustainable living websites and books that can assist us with changing the way we live for the better. Check out the links in the blog roll to the right, as there are some wonderful people, doing some wonderfully simple things and that by adopting them, can change the way we live and behave, all for the betterment of human kind.

I did some research and stumbled across this essay by Ted Trainer from his website, The Simpler Way. The essay is titled “Why ANZAC Day is so disturbing“, and is a very thought provoking piece. Whilst I link it in this post, I do not agree with all of its arguments. I just believe that it makes you think, and that is all I intend by linking to it. Armed forces, in my experience, are controlled by their Governments, good or bad, and the servicemen and women do not have much say in the conflicts they are ordered to attend. That is just the way military services are. They are the final instrument of government when diplomacy fails. And in most cases, as the essay states, diplomacy could have solved many of our conflicts well before military intervention was required.

So my advice to all who worry about Peak Oil, and further global conflict, is to live sustainably, seek a simpler lifestyle, and get active so that public opinion does not allow governments to think they have the mandate to get involved in resource wars in the future!

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