My great-uncle, H.C.E MacAuley, was a member of 6 Div AASC. He was captured in Kalamata in April of 1941, and stayed undercover and on the run for more than twelve months during which he tried to make it to the Turkish border. He was recaptured in June 1942 and remained a POW until liberation by the 101 Airborne.
I was privileged to know this man as my beloved Uncle Charlie.
He had a great sense of humour and always made time for me. I used to go and visit him and my Auntie Marion on Saturday afternoons with my Grandpa. We would watch the cricket, football or other sports and talk and joke and laugh.
This was where I learned to love watching sports, where I the learned the rules of the different games, where I started to learn about politics, and where I first learned about the war.
Uncle Charlie would tell me stories about things he and his fellow soldiers did, but as I got older I realised how gentle and careful he had been with my young heart and mind.
He told me of events and characters of the war, but he never revealed to me its horror or brutality. He always told me how lucky I was to be Australian and explained that men like him fought so that we could remain the lucky country.
We cannot underestimate the degree to which we owe those soldiers our social and cultural freedom.
We cannot allow our society or our nation to forget the reasons for each war in which we have participated or the outcomes and consequences that each delivered.
I am proud of Uncle Charlie and every other person who has risked or sacrificed their own freedom to preserve that of their countrymen and of the oppressed.
I am thankful for their service.
I am thankful for my country and our prosperity and way of life compared to many other countries.
This ANZAC Day, I encourage everyone to remember and reflect on the freedoms the Australian military services have won on our behalf, and what it cost many of those men and women to achieve them.
Lest we forget.