The air was warmer than in previous years, this drought continues with no end in sight. The ground crunched under our feet, not from frost but from the dry, baked earth that has seen little rain over the summer months. The whispered greetings as we waited to start were about how dry it is and the old timers remarking they haven’t seen it so bare for many decades.
Down the street, in the dim morning dawn a train rumbles through the town, past where once a railway station once stood. Its whistles blow with an air of prosperity as more black gold is hauled east to the port. Those same tracks carried our troops to port a century ago. Families gave one last long hug on that platform and waved a tearful farewell as sons, fathers and brothers were sent across the oceans to fight the big war.
Some returned, others lost their lives on the battle fields of the western front.
The memorial in the local park a constant reminder of those who went. Saunders and Stead Killed in Action and never returning to the black soil plains, the smell of eucalypt, the blue skies and open land of home. Delve who died of wounds, fighting with desire to return to help turn the sods and reap many more harvest with his family at home.
Bass, Campion, Davies, Martin, Pryor, Sullivan arriving home to the heroes welcomes to live with ghosts of unspeakable acts and brutality beyond what humans should ever endure.
The story of farewells on the rail platform, the deaths, the losses, the angst and returning ghosts continue across decades. And continue today.
At the village Anzac Day 2018 ceremonies over 300 people paused to remember and thank those who have gave their lives, so we can continue to live in freedom and choice.
In his commemorative address John Lyle reminded us of these sacrifices – from the 300, 000 who fought on the Western Front, to World War 2 where many Prisoner of War returned home without any post war support and were just told ‘to get on with it”.
People at home could not, and probably still don’t comprehend the brutality and slaughter they witnessed. He reminded us of other wars and battles, including families who still wait for news from those serving in current conflicts.
As the brass band filled the autumn skies with music and we gave our thanks through prayer and hymn the Australian landscape around us continued its chatter. The galahs squawked overhead, the trains whistled, the cars zoomed by. Life and choices we continue to enjoy.
Our youth perspective confirmed these brave men and women of our past are role models for future generations, helping provide the freedom and opportunity that we can tend to for granted.
They are, Breanna said “A link to the past that helps shape our nation and the future”.
In the quiet morning light in Curlewis NSW on April 25th 2018 villagers – young and old – came together to remember. The following poem, read at the dawn service describing why we do so eloquently.
Reflecting on one hundred years, since ANZACS first became
There’s much that now is different, but much that stays the same
There’s still a price for liberty, so we can choose our path
There still are those who go to war and pay on our behalf
There still are those who sacrifice and leave loved -ones behind
So we can have the right to vote and speak what’s on our mind
There still are those who face a foe and fight in foreign lands
In hopes that we’ll be terror free and safe from evil hands
There still are those who take a wound and live with daily pain
Their battle is a lifelong thing; their price for freedom’s gain
There still are those who give their lives and break their happy home
There still are grieving boys and girls – and partners all alone
So keep in mind our wounded vets and families of the lost
They’re still the ones who bear the bulk of freedom’s daily cost
Remember freedom has a price – we’re in our soldiers’ debt
Remember to remember – lest we all forget
by Ian Coate
+ thank you to all who helped with the 2 Anzac ceremonies at Curlewis – Councillor Colleen Fuller, Peter Boem & Phoebe Neil, Curlewis Public School, Curlewis Bush Fire Brigade, Hunter River Lancers, Gunnedah Shire Band, all who presented reflections or prayers, read the ode and finally thank you to the small Curlewis Anzac Committee.