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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Reflections on small moments of Greatness

As we approach ANZAC day, I begin to think about the stories I have been told about relatives who fought. These stories do not come out easily, and it was only the other day that I found out that my great-grandfather had been one of the lighthorsemen at the Battle of the Nek. (He was shot in the hat. The bullet ended up in his future brother-in-law lung.)
But the story I wish to reflect on at the moment is about my Grandfather on my mothers side. He was in the US Navy during WW2. And they have a saying in the navy "Never volunteer for anything". The one time he did, he was given a gun (having never used a gun) and sent to inspect an island. So he never volunteered again.
Anyway, one day on the farm at home there was a dead roting cow somewhere and Grandpa explained to my old man that it "smelt like the beaches". It turns out the other time he had volunteered had been to clean up the bodies after the landings at the start of the battle of Leyte. Now this must have been one of the least pleasent things to do and it something most people would not wish to do, but Grandpa had voluteenered I guess because he thought it was the right thing to do. He could of let someone else do it but then they would have suffered the unpleasentness.
Anyway, the point I was going to make was not all moments of greatness in war involve the charging of machine gun nests. Acts like this also take some effort and can lead to a lasting impact on a person.

PS. The other point was he would have been 24 years old then, which is the age I am at now. He always seemed like an old guy to me, so it is odd to talk about him as a young man.


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