TRIBUTES

The tributes below have been contributed to reflect on the experiences, grief and gratitude of those who have either participated in,
or been close to those involved in Peacekeeping or Peacemaking operations.

The Australian Peacekeeper

Nikki Reggett, (15 years old)
Dedicated to my Daddy who served as a Peacemaker in Somalia 1994

in honour of Australian Peacekeepers on Australian Peacekeeper Day 14 September 2008

They are the veterans from the hidden wars
That many do not know
They have fought for the peace of others
And recognition we do owe

They are the veterans often not acknowledged
Though they always wish they were
They are the forgotten ones on ANZAC day
I’m sure they will concur

Indonesia, Cambodia, Somalia
Not just the great wars and Vietnam
All fought for one gift in mind
Their sacrifice is no sham

They have served their country under blue beret
Keeping peace where it is needed
They put others above their lives
Their duty they have exceeded

They are the veterans who often are not acknowledged
Though they always wish they were
They are the forgotten ones on ANZAC day
I’m sure they will concur 

Their stories not relayed
No learning from their mistakes
They sacrificed their all
Not worrying about what was at stake

These men fought with the United Nations
Who served for others peace
In Rwanda, Bouganville and Pakistan
Their loyalty to Australia will never cease

They are proud to be Aussie veterans
Though often not seen as such
They are the just some average guys
Yet Australians owe them much

They are the veterans who often aren’t acknowledged
Though they always wish they were
They are the forgotten ones on ANZAC day
I’m sure they will concur

Don’t forget the young veterans who sacrificed
Their livelihood for you today
For they served in different conflicts
But same price they have had to pay

Never fall in love with the travelling Soldier

Shona Traill

Never fall in love with the travelling soldier
were the words I once heard in a song.

But my heart fills with love and anticipation
waiting for my soldier’s return.

I could never love another while my soldier
beckons me with his words of love.

Promises forever of his undying passion
wait for me on his return.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder
I think on these words alone at night,

As my heart aches with love for you…
My travelling soldier

I wait for your return…..
I long for your return.

My love fills like a well,
waiting to fill your senses,

When you come home to me.

My Dad, the ex-Soldier

Jassie M Copeland 11 y.o. ©
22/4/10

You know I am always here, 
always ready to lend an ear, 
I will help you through your troubles and always stand by you, 
I love you always and shall never leave you, 
I know what you have suffered and been through, 
so I shall try my best, 
to always understand you, 
I know what ANZAC day means, 
all the hardship, mateship, 
Aussie spirit that our diggers go through day by day, 
I know you wish you could go back there daddy, 
and I will understand, but I will NEVER let you go again, 
I hope you understand, 
I know you sleep from time to time and sometimes miss important dates, 
but the only thing I care about is that you are ok, 
I know the stress that you go through, 
and will always cuddle you, 
I know you wish you could do a lot more things, 
but I understand and love you, 
for just you, I LOVE YOU!

Proud of you Boys

Jim Stow

The Sailors, the RAAFies,
The Soldiers ‘n’ all,
Once answered our country
When they gave us a call. 

We’re proud of our boys,
The Pollies would say,
But we don’t want their thanks
In our fortnightly pay. 

They wanted their soldiers,
So we went and we tried,
Now look at what they do,
If they hadn’t quite died. 

Their benefits are protected,
Yet they won’t change their stance,
Whilst you and me,
Lose the seat of our pants. 

Put down your pen
and pick up a gun,
Get off your arse,
and see what you’ve done, 

Go days without sleep
and lay in the dirt,
Careful you don’t crease
that nice tie and shirt. 

Let’s rattle your nerves
And scatter your brain,
Then we’ll watch your life
Go down the drain. 

We don’t ask a lot,
Please be fair and be just.
‘Cos what you have done
Has eroded our trust. 

These conflicts you enter,
Then call for our help,
Well next time it happens
Try doin’ it yourself !!!

peacekeepers

The Peacekeeper

by Rune Bjornsen

You saw them die on TV.
Then you got your orders.
To go there yourself.

You went,
You said goodbye to your loved ones.
Walked aboard the plane.
It lifted from the ground.
You fell asleep.

You walked out of the plane.
Smelled the air.
Looked around.
At a foreign country.
You loaded your rifle.
Hoping you would never have to fire it at someone.
Lifted your pack.
Boarded the transport.
You tried to take it in.
The burned houses.
The litter in the streets.
On the way to your new home away from home.

You arrived at your base.
Got your kit stowed away.
Went on your first patrol.
Heart pounding a little extra.
You met them then,
the people getting killed on TV.
Smiling at you.
Spitting at you.
You did your job.

You held a newborn baby in your arms
while the medic took care of the mother in the morning.
In the evening you kicked in a door,
and ransacked a house looking for weapons.
You found them in the newborn baby’s cradle.
You did your job.

You sat in an observation tower for twelve hours during the midday heat.
Watching the fields so that the farmers could bring in the harvest in safety.
In the evening the farmers threw stones at you,
and threatened to kill you.
You did your job.

You saw your best friend die.
He stepped on a mine placed there the night before.
The next day you escorted the killers’ children to school.
You did your job.

You called your loved ones on the phone on Christmas Eve.
You told them you missed them,
that you wished you where with them.
Then you picked up your rifle,
and went on another patrol.
You did your job.

You did it for six months, a year, forever.
Then you packed your kit.
Got on the transport.
Fell asleep.

Your plane landed in your own country.
Your loved ones waited at the airport.
Waited for you.
You came home…A VETERAN

Daddy’s Poem

Written By Cheryl Costello-Forshey
2000

Her hair was up in a pony tail, Her favourite dress tied with a bow,
Today was Daddy’s Day at school, And she couldn’t wait to go. 

But her mommy tried to tell her, That she probably should stay home,
Why the kids might not understand, If she went to school alone. 

But she was not afraid, She knew just what to say,
What to tell her classmates, Of why he wasn’t there today. 

But still her mother worried, For her to face this day alone.
And that was why once again, She tried to keep her daughter home. 

But the little girl went to school, Eager to tell them all,
About a dad she never sees, A dad who never calls. 

There were daddies along the wall in back, For everyone to meet.
Children squirming impatiently, Anxious in their seats. 

One by one the teacher called, A student from the class,
To introduce their daddy, As seconds slowly passed. 

At last the teacher called her name, Every child turned to stare,
Each of them was searching, A man who wasn’t there. 

‘Where’s her daddy at?’, She heard a boy call out,
‘She probably doesn’t have one’, Another student dared to shout. 

And from somewhere near the back, She heard a daddy say,
‘Looks like another deadbeat dad, Too busy to waste his day.’ 

The words did not offend her, As she smiled up at her Mom,
And looked back at her teacher, Who told her to go on. 

And with hands behind her back, Slowly she began to speak.
And out from the mouth of a child, Came words incredibly unique. 

‘My Daddy couldn’t be here, Because he lives so far away,
But I know he wishes he could be, Since this is such a special day. 

And though you cannot meet him, I wanted you to know,
All about my daddy, And how much he loves me so. 

He loved to tell me stories, He taught me to ride my bike,
He surprised me with pink roses, And taught me to fly a kite. 

We used to share fudge sundaes, And ice cream in a cone,
And though you cannot see him, I’m not standing here alone. 

‘Cause my daddy’s al ways with me, Even though we are apart.
I know because he told me, He’ll forever be in my heart’. 

With that her little hand reached up, And lay across her chest.
Feeling her own heartbeat, Beneath her favourite dress. 

And from somewhere here in the crowd of dads, Her mother stood in tears,
Proudly watching her daughter, Who was wise beyond her years. 

For she stood up for the love, Of a man not in her life,
Doing what was best for her, Doing what was right. 

And when she dropped her hand back down, Staring straight into the crowd,
She finished with a voice so soft, But its message clear and loud. 

‘I love my daddy very much, He’s my shining star,
And if he could, He’d be here, But heaven’s just too far. 

You see he is an Aussie soldier, And died just this past year,
When a roadside bomb hit his convoy, And taught Australians to fear. 

But sometimes when I close my eyes, it’s like he never went away.’
And then she closed her eyes, And saw him there that day. 

And to her mother’s amazement, She witnessed with surprise,
A room full of daddies and children, All starting to close their eyes. 

Who knows what they saw before them, Who knows what they felt inside,
Perhaps for merely a second, They saw him at her side. 

‘I know you’re with me Daddy,’ To the silence she called out,
And what happened next made believers, Of those once filled with doubt. 

Not one in that room could explain it, For each of their eyes had been closed,
But there on the desk beside her, Was a fragrant long-stemmed rose. 

Thanks

The letter below was sent to the National President

Paul,

My name is Andrew Lund. We have met previously at the Torquay RSL and I am a member of the APPVA. I am writing this letter to express my immense gratitude to the APPVA, especially Mick Quinn. Having been discharged from the Army with PTSD I was at an utter loss as to my entitlements, let alone how to go about obtaining them. I had been sent around in circles by the various organisations that were supposed to be helping me for what seemed like an eternity. I was ready to give up, feeling totally let down and isolated by the system. It was at about this time Danny Blomley told me about the APPVA and how they could help. To say I was cynical would be an understatement. How happy I am now that I did take the time to make that phonecall though.

Mick drove from Melbourne to meet with me so that I wasn’t out of my comfort zone and immediately put me at ease with his personable nature and professional manner and understanding. Mick answered all my questions openly and explained to me what I was required to do to obtain my entitlements. Although this meant that I pretty much had to start from scratch, at last I felt I had someone on my side who knew the legislation intimately and how to make it work for someone like myself. I continuously recieved phone calls of support and updates from Mick. Eventhough I was unmotivated, it was Mick’s phone calls that kept me going. I felt like he was really in there fighting for me, and I will be forever grateful.

My pensions and lumpsum payouts were finalised and after what I know was a long battle for Mick, last week I received my Gold Card with TPI. I feel that a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and that now I can try to move on with life. Words can’t express the gratitude I feel. As yet I have been unable to contact Mick and tell him the news. Hopefully he is on a holiday. I know it’s not much in the scheme of things but I felt I needed to at least write to thankyou for everything that has been done. I would also like to thank the APPVA on behalf of my wife Janene and our kids, who know that it was you that helped me keep going.

Once again….Thanks. And Mick……..you’re a legend, you always treated me with respect and acheived everything I could have hoped for.

Regards

Andrew Lund

A Salute to our Australian Soldiers

Author Unknown

I sat in my seat of the Boeing 767 in Sydney Airport waiting for everyone to hurry and stow their carry-ons and grab a seat so we could start what I was sure to be a long, uneventful flight home. 

With the huge capacity and slow moving people taking their time to stuff luggage far too big for the overhead and never paying much attention to holding up the growing line behind them, I simply shook my head knowing that this flight was not starting out very well. I was anxious to get home to see my loved ones so I was focused on “my” issues and just felt like standing up and yelling for some of these clowns to get their act together. I knew I couldn’t say a word so I just thumbed thru the magazine from the seat pocket in front of me. You know it’s really getting rough when you resort to the over priced, useless sky mall crap to break the monotony. With everyone finally seated, we just sat there with the cabin door open and no one in any hurry to get us going although we were well past the scheduled take off time. No wonder the airline industry is in trouble I told myself. Just then, the attendant came on the intercom to inform us all that we were being delayed. The entire plane let out a collective groan. She resumed speaking to say “We are holding the aircraft for some very special people who are on their way to the plane and the delay shouldn’t be more than 5 minutes. The word came after waiting six times as long as we were promised that “I” was finally going to be on my way home. Why the hoopla over “these” people? I was expecting some celebrity or sport figure to be the reason for the hold up.

Just get their butts in a seat and lets hit the gas I thought. The attendant came back on the speaker to announce in a loud and excited voice that we were being joined by several Australian Soldiers returning home from Afghanistan!!! Just as they walked on board, the entire plane erupted into applause. The men were a bit taken by surprise by the 340 people cheering for them as they searched for their seats. They were having their hands shook and touched by almost everyone who was within an arm’s distance of them as they passed down the aisle. One elderly woman kissed the hand of one of the Soldiers as he passed by her. The applause, whistles and cheering didn’t stop for a long time. When we were finally airborne, “I” was not the only civilian checking his conscience as to the delays in “me” getting home, finding my easy chair, a cold beverage and the remote in my hand. These men had done for all of us and I had been complaining silently about “me” and “my” issues. I took for granted the everyday freedoms I enjoy and the conveniences of the Australian way of life I took for granted others paid the price for my ability to moan and complain about a few minutes delay to “me”. These Heroes were going home to their loved ones after several months of fighting against the terrorists that haunt our society.

I attempted to get my selfish outlook back in order and minutes before we landed I suggested to the flight attendant that she announce over the speaker a request for everyone to remain in their seats until our hero’s were allowed to gather their things and be first off the plane. The cheers and applause continued until the last Soldier stepped off and we all rose to go about our too often taken for granted everyday freedoms……… I felt proud of them. I felt it an honour and a privilege to be among the first to welcome them home and say Thank You for a job well done. I vowed that I will never forget that flight nor the lesson learned. I can’t say it enough, THANK YOU to those Veterans and active servicemen and women who may read this and a prayer for those who cannot because they are no longer with us.

GOD BLESS!! WELCOME HOME! AND THANKS FOR A JOB WELL DONE !!!!!  

New Generation Veterans

David J Delaney
10/02/2010 ©

We honour our old veterans, we honour them with pride,
And read of all the horrors they have carried deep inside,
We know they served in Asia or New Guinea’s highland rains,
Vietnam or in Africa where many men were slain. 

We know that fateful landing on Gallipoli’s dark shore,
Wherever Aussies fought, we know there are so many more,
But now a new young generation needs our help as well,
They too have been to war and suffer with their private hell. 

Though losses are not classed as great, their fears are just the same,
Those electronic hidden bombs, still injure, kill or maim,
They fight against an enemy they find so hard to see,
Who mingle in the market place, then cause much tragedy. 

Insurgents in Afghanistan hide in the rough terrain,
Or roaming in Iraq, where, wearing robes they look the same,
The suicide stealth bombers, don’t care who they hurt or kill,
Then, with their own beliefs, they try to break our forces will. 

Our fighting Aussie spirit shows on any foreign land,
They’re in the skies, they’re on the sea, or on the desert sand,
Now many are returning with the horrors they still see,
And living with their nightmares, suffering bureaucracy. 

I know on ANZAC Day, we all remember with a tear,
But ALL vets, young or old, they need our help throughout the year,
Support and listen to their stories, when they do get told,
Let’s honour our NEW veterans, just like we do our old.

The Final Inspection

Author Unknown

The Soldier stood and faced his God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

“Step forward now, you Soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?”

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said,
“No, my Lord, I ain’t.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can’t always be a saint.

I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a dollar,
That wasn’t mine to keep…
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.

I know I don’t deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.

If you’ve a place for me here, Lord,
It needn’t be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.”

There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the Soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.

“Step forward now, you Soldier,
You’ve borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in Hell.”

Thank You

Author Anon

For all the veterans out there,
And those remembered everywhere,
A thanks should go out from us all.
And forever you should all walk tall.

It is with great and deep regret,
We need to cry tears so wet,
For our sons, Fathers, Grandfathers,
Men whom you loved more than brothers.

Men you shared moments so personal, so
Dark and grim. That we at home can never know.
Yet you had good memories of smiles and laughter,
Something to carry with you ever after.

We thank-you for your bravery, strength and courage!
For stories to remember you by we will forage.
So that you, your brothers, your mates,
Those that fell during or after war,
Shall be remembered now and forever more!

May we thirst for knowledge of your tour,
Of peace keeping mission or of war.
That we can try to understand,
The demons you carry or the shaking of your hand.

We can never hope to understand,
Losing a mate in a foreign land,
Living in fear in another nation,
Hiding in the forest in rotten vegetation.

The camaraderie that is,
Bought upon you by this,
This living through all this strife,
While guarding one anothers life.

Most of us have no idea,
The troubles that you have to bear,
Or the memories of a terrible war.
With which such young eyes you saw.
THANK-YOU!!!
From us all! For fighting your terrible war.

ANZAC on the Wall

By Jim Arthur

I wandered thru a country town ‘cos I had time to spare
And went into an antique shop to see what was in there
Old Bikes and pumps and kero lamps, but hidden by it all
A photo of a soldier boy – an ANZAC on the Wall 

“The ANZAC have a name?” I asked. The old man answered “No.
The ones who could have told me mate have passed on long ago”
The old man kept on talking and, according to his tale
The photo was unwanted junk bought from a clearance sale 

“I asked around,” the old man said, “but no one knows his face
He’s been on that wall twenty years, deserves a better place
For some one must have loved him so, it seems a shame somehow.”
I nodded in agreement and then said, ”I’ll take him now.” 

My nameless digger’s photo, well it was a sorry sight
A cracked glass pane and a broken frame – I had to make it right
To prise the photo from its frame I took care just in case
Cause only sticky paper held the cardboard back in place 

I peeled away the faded screed and much to my surprise
Two letters and a telegram appeared before my eyes
The first reveals my ANZAC’s name, and regiment of course
John Mathew Francis Stuart, of Australia’s own Light Horse 

This letter written from the front, my interest now was keen
This note was dated August seventh 1917 

“Dear Mum, I’m at Khalasa Springs not far from the Red Sea
They say it’s in the Bible – looks like Billabong to me.” 

“My kathy wrote I’m in her prayers, she’s still my bride to be
I just can’t wait to see you both you’re all the world to me
And Mum you’ll soon meet Bluey, last month they shipped him out
I told him to call on you when he’s up and about.” 

“That bluey is a larrikin, and we all thought it funny
He lobbed a Turkish hand grenade into the Co’s dunny
I told you how he dragged me wounded in from no man’s land
He stopped the bleeding closed the wound with only his bare hand.” 

“Then he copped it at the front from some stray shrapnel blast
It was my turn to drag him in and I thought he wouldn’t last
He woke up in hospital, and nearly lost his mind
Cause out there on the battlefield he’d left one leg behind.” 

“He’s been in a bad way mum, he knows he’ll ride no more
Like me he loves a horse’s back he was a champ before
So please Mum, can you take him in, he’s been like my brother
Raised in a Queensland orphanage he’s never known a mother.”
“But Struth, I miss Australia mum, and in my mind each day
I am a mountain cattleman on high plains far away
I’m mustering white-faced cattle, with no camel’s hump in sight
And I waltz my Matilda by a campfire every night.” 

“I wonder who rides Billy, I heard the pub burnt down
I’ll always love you and please say hoo-roo to all in town.” 

The second letter I could see was in a lady’s hand
An answer to her soldier son there in a foreign land
Her copperplate was perfect, the pages neat and clean
It bore the date November 3rd 1917. 

“T’was hard enough to lose your Dad, without you at the war
I’d hoped you would be home by now- each day I miss you more.” 

“Your Cathy calls around a lot since you have been away
To share with me her hopes and dreams about your wedding day
And Bluey has arrived – and what a godsend he has been
We talked and laughed for days about the things you’ve done and seen.” 

“He really is a comfort, and works hard around the farm
I read the same hope in his eyes that you won’t come to harm
McConnell’s kids rode Billy, but suddenly that changed
We had a violent lightning storm, and it was really strange.” 

“Last Wednesday, just on midnight, not a single cloud in sight
It raged for several minutes, it gave us all a fright
It really spooked your Billy -and he screamed and bucked and reared
And then he then he rushed the sliprail fence, which by a foot he cleared.” 

“They brought him back next afternoon, but something’s changed
I fear it’s like the day you brought him home, for no one can get near
Remember when you caught him with his black and flowing mane?
Now Horse breakers fear the beast that only you can tame.” 

“That’s why we need you home son” – then the flow of ink went dry
This letter was unfinished, and I couldn’t work out why
Until I started reading the letter number three
A yellow telegram delivered news of tragedy 

Her son killed in action – oh, what pain that must have been
The Same date as her letter – 3rd November 17
This letter which was never sent, became then one of three
She sealed behind the photo’s face – the face she longed to see 

And John’s home town’s old timers -children when he went to war
Would say no greater cattleman had left the town before
They knew his widowed mother well – and with respect did tell
How when she lost her only boy she lost her mind as well 

She could not face the awful truth, to strangers she would speak
“My Johnny’s at the war you know , he’s coming home next week.”
They all remembered Bluey he stayed on to the end
A younger man with wooden leg became her closest friend
And he would go and find her when she wandered old and weak
And always softly say “Yes dear, John will be home next week.”
Then when she died Bluey moved on, to Queensland some did say
I tried to find out where he went, but don’t know to this day 

And Kathy never wed- a lonely spinster some found odd
She wouldn’t set foot in a church- she’d turned her back on God
John’s mother left no will I learned on my detective trail
This explains my photo’s journey that clearance sale 

So I continued digging cause I wanted to know more
I found John’s name with thousands in the records of the war
His last ride proved his courage, a ride you will acclaim
The Light Horse Charge at Beersheba of everlasting fame 

That last day in October back in 1917
At 4pm our brave boys fell-that sad fact I did glean
That’s when John’s life was sacrificed the record’s crystal clear
But 4pm in Beersheba is midnight over here 

So as John’s gallant spirit rose to cross the great divide
Were lightning bolts back home a signal from the other side?
Is that why Billy bolted and went racing as in pain?
Because he’d never feel his master on his back again? 

Was it coincidental? Same time, same day same date?
Some proof of numerology, or just a quirk of fate?
I think it’s more than that you know as I’ve heard wiser men,
Acknowledge there are many things that go beyond our ken. 

Where craggy peaks guard secrets ‘neath dark skies torn asunder
Where hoof-beats are companions to the rolling waves of thunder
Where lightning cracks like 303’s and ricochets again
Where howling moaning gusts of wind sound just like dying men 

Some Mountain cattlemen have sworn on lonely alpine track
They’ve glimpsed a huge black stallion, Light Horseman on his back
Yes, sceptics say it’s swirling clouds just forming apparitions
Oh no, my friend you cant dismiss all this as superstition 

The desert of Beersheba or windswept Aussie range
John Stuart rides forever there, now I don’t find that strange 

Now some gaze at this photo, and they often question me
And I tell them a small white lie, and say he’s family.
“You must be proud of him.” they say-I tell them, one and all,
That’s why he takes the pride of place – my ANZAC on the Wall.
—oooOOOooo—

PTSD and the Pearl

Chris Woolnough 25 April 2006

War put a grain of sand in the soldiers heart,
The pain it caused tore his soul apart,
He writhed and squirmed as his agony grew,
Tragedy was the only thing he knew.

Loved ones watched his pain, they felt it too.

No one understood that grain of sand,
Or the purpose for the pain at hand.
Trying to rip that stone right from his heart,
Prevented healing from the start.

Loved ones watched his pain, they felt it too.
No one knew just what to do.

That grain of sand became a rock,
A hardened stone that some would mock.
Anger and numbness tried to conceal,
The pain that hurt too much to feel.

Loved ones watched his pain, they felt it too.
No one knew just what to do.
Soon their hearts too would turn to stone,
Suffering their pain alone.

Oh agony, what a heavy price to pay,
To thrash and cast that boulder away,
No one understood in order to heal,
Pain is a virtue we all must feel.

That grain of sand is growing now,
And our soldiers hearts are changed somehow,
But as each layer of pain unfurls,
Inside his heart, there lies a pearl.

That irritating little grain of sand,
Has grown to something we now understand.
His loved ones watched, they felt it too.
Now there’s a pearl of wisdom inside of you.

A treasure to behold, not of shame,
PTSD is the survivors name,
The very thing we once have hated,
Is a thing of beauty war created.

Proud to be Australian

Author Unknown, 2006

Last week I was in Melbourne attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed one of the greatest acts of patriotism I have ever seen. 

Moving through the terminal was a group of soldiers in their uniforms, as they began heading to their gate everyone (well almost everyone) was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and cheering. When I saw the soldiers, probably 30-40 of them, being applauded and cheered for, it hit me. I’m not alone. I’m not the only red blooded Australian who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families. 

Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line everyday for us so we can go to school, work, and enjoy our home without fear or reprisal. Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or of our service men and women a young girl, not more than 6 or 7 years old, ran up to one of the male soldiers. He knelt down and said “hi,” the little girl then asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her. The young soldier didn’t look any older than maybe 22 himself, said he could try and what did she want to give to her daddy. Suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek. 

The mother of the little girl, who said her daughters name was Courtney, told the young soldier that her husband was a Corporal and had been in Afghanistan for 5 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter, Courtney, missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up. When this temporarily single mum was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second. Then one of the other servicemen pulled out a military looking walkie-talkie. They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it. 

After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney, bent down and said this to her, “I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to you.” He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying “Your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything and he is coming home very soon.” 

The mum at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his feet he saluted Courtney and her mum. 

I was standing no more than 6 feet away as this entire event unfolded. As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, there were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last act turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.