Saturday, 26 April 2008

Scrapping the memories you no longer have photos of

OK, here's a tricky quandary.

Yesterday was ANZAC day in Australia - one of the days on which we remember the sacrifices made by Australian troops on battlefields around the world.

The date commemorates the 1915 landing on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Dardanelles with the objective to knock Turkey out of the war.

The attack lasted nine months and failed utterly due to poor planning, poor communications and poor leadership on the part of some of the senior staff.

The most successful part of the operation was the withdrawal from the peninsula with all the troops being evacuated for few losses.

Most Australians either know someone who's relatives fought in the battle or died in the battle, but for many the family photographs no longer exist, and the memories, long dead, are mixed in the mythos of the ANZAC legend.

Remembering becomes much more complex without the tangibles like photographs and diaries.

Fortunately the amount of information about the campaign and the fact that so many young Australians travel to Gallipoli each year must be proving a wealth of new material.

Remarkably, the fact that Australians invaded Turkey has not been the cause for long standing enmity between Australia and Turkey - just the opposite. There is an enduring respect that was born of that battle, probably summed up best by one of the Turkish commanders, and later President of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

"Lest We Forget" has been the motto of ANZAC day since its inception, and I can't think of a more appropriate to uphold that by scrapping if not the relics of that history, then the new memories we create in commemorating it.

Friday, 11 April 2008

WSF Announcement

The World Scrapbooking Forum has today announced that the global scrap initiative has been successful and that scrapbooking may now cease entirely. A target date for the conclusion of scrapping around the world has been set - 21 June 2008.

It it anticipated that no scrapbooking products will be manufactured after this date as all paper resources are directed to producing toilet paper.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

A not-quite-ANZAC-day reflection

One of the great things about having a blog is that you have somewhere to get the stuff out of your head. Naturally when you have a blog about a particular subject, like coffee or scrapbooking, most of what you write is going to be about coffee or scrapbooking. But sometimes not – like today.

Yesterday our team at work had a corporate development day, the first part of which included a talk by Peter Hughes, a building contractor who was critically injured in the first Bali bombing in 2002.

It was a remarkable presentation and you really get a sense of just how much Peter’s life changed for good and ill after the bomb went off.

One of the most notable things Peter said was about the immediate response of people to the blast and how so many young Australians went straight in to help those who were injured. Peter, burned and maimed by the blast had staggered outside only to be blown back inside by the explosion of the car bomb outside the Sari nightclub. He made it back out - with 13 people in tow that they had collected as they moved out. He then went back inside the burning Paddy's Pub to bring out more injured people.

Peter reflected on the others he say helping out right after the blast and later in the hospital in Denpasar.

Peter Cosgrove later referred to the young Aussies who helped out in the immediate aftermath and for some weeks afterwards as ‘diggers without uniforms’.

Australia’s history does seem to have a strong streak of mucking in when help is needed and we seem to be at our best when the situation is at its worst.

There was another example of that yesterday when a young bloke, Brock Curtis, jumped on his surfboard and paddled out to rescue his mate who had been bitten by a shark.

Imagine going out in the water to the very place a shark has just attacked someone. That really is the most extraordinary thing, and the tragedy of his mate’s death does not lessen the enormity of the act.

A quote, sometimes attributed as an old Norwegian folk saying and at other times to George S. Patton goes; “Courage is fear hanging on one minute longer”. Regardless of the origin, the truth of the statement is evident. Most people who are heroes are heroes because they transcend their fears for the brief time required to do what needs to be done.

I don’t think the fear is gone – and I imagine that the later nightmares that many people have after such an event are reflections of the enormity of that fear, but the fact that a person can push through the natural desire for self preservation is remarkable.

I don’t know that Aussies have this capacity more than other people, I hope we do as it makes up for some of our other national flaws. I do know that we see it more often when the need is greatest, just as we see greater community strength and charity when times are toughest.

I wonder sometimes whether the very fact of our current affluence has led us to complacency and isolation and whether if we had to struggle together a little more we might be more successful as people.

It seems that the true spirit of Australia was born in adversity and is renewed in adversity - may we never become afraid of a little adversity.