Remembrance Day is such an important day in the Australian Calendar. A day that celebrates the end of hostilities. A day we remembers those who risked life itself in the longed for hope of peace.
One such soldier was Albert Jacka, (10 January 1893 – 17 January 1932) an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross. He received that award for gallantry “in the face of the enemy” during the Gallipoli Campaign.
Wikipedia records the story as follows, “On 19 May 1915, the Turks launched an assault against the Anzac Line, capturing a section of the trench at Courtney’s Post; one end of which was guarded by Jacka… It was then decided that while a feint attack was made from the same end, Jacka would attack from the rear. The party then proceeded to engage the Turks with rifle fire, throwing in two bombs as Jacka skirted around to attack from the flank. He climbed out onto “no man’s land“, entering the trench via the parapet. In the resulting conflict, Jacka shot five Turkish soldiers and bayoneted two others, forcing the remainder to flee the trench; he then held the trench alone for the remainder of the night…”
It was this kind of bravery that helped win the war. However it would be foolish to consider that Jacka won the war single handed. There were others fighting and serving on other fronts. Some held guns while others manufactured them. Some fought in the trenches while others battled in prayer for their welfare. Some never came home while those who did honoured the ones left behind.
After more than a hundred years it may be difficult for some to calculate how thankful we should be for the efforts of those in the past who risked, and in some cases gave, everything for a future that we enjoy. Go back another two thousand years and consider the Christmas celebrations of our December as people struggle to calculate how thankful they should be for the one who from womb to tomb gave his life for the salvation of others.
Why remember? What value is there in remembrance?
I don’t want, in any way, to cheapen our Remembrance Day celebrations but I wonder if our current circumstances could find reminders from the past to teach and assist us in the present. The battle we face as a community today to get on our feet after Covid is quite different to that of WWI but it increasingly requires a similar kind of courage to fight and keep fighting.
Remembering offers inspiration for our own courage but when it comes to Jesus Christ remembering offers us hope beyond our worst failures and promise in the midst of our losses.
What is Remembrance Day if it does not remind us of our responsibilities to pursue peace and offer hope for the wellbeing of others? Indeed, what is Christmas if the Prince of Peace and Saviour of the world makes no perceivable difference to the way we live for each other. If all we remember is ourselves the remembrance will be brief. It is the investments of love on behalf of others that are not forgotten and they are most needed. So let’s keep pulling together and not give up in the battles we encounter.