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Penny's Blog - Memories of My Dad: Anzac Day 2012

For me, Anzac Day brings me memories of my dad, who served in New Guinea in the Second World War.

Growing up, I noticed he wasn't one for going to the March, or the Pub either. He'd spend the day in his beloved shed - a bit more subdued than usual.

In later years, he explained to me that he was thinking about the mates he had lost, especially his best friend, Freddy, who was shot by a sniper on the day before the war ended. Peace came too late for Freddy. And many others.

My father didn't talk much about what he had been through, in the war.

However, in 1995, the fifty-year commemoration of the end of the war inspired me to write to him. I had seen some ads showing the Salvation Army dispensing care and comfort to soldiers on the Kokoda Trail.

Among other things, I wrote

Dear Dad,

I've been doing a lot of thinking over the last few months, culminating in the VP celebration last week. The ad for the Salvation Army which has been appearing on ABC TV, which described how grateful the men were for a simple cup of coffee and a kind face, got me thinking about what it must have been like for those of you in New Guinea.

Of course I can't come close to understanding the horrors you experienced, the fear, the loneliness (or the good times - the camaraderie, the laughs...) but I think I now have a greater appreciation of what your generation gave up and went through. Understanding this, it also makes me value our nation all the more.

Australia is a great country - our democracy, our sense of justice, our humour, our egalitarianism - all things worth being vigilant for.

I don't think I've ever actually said thank you for what you did then but I am now.

Thank you, Dad...

He died suddenly the next year.

After his death, my mother showed me a collection of letters he had labelled 'Top Letters'.

My letter was in there.


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