Anzac Day (25th April) is fast approaching. In Australia and New Zealand this is the national day of remembrance that commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served in, and died in, all wars and conflicts.
It was originally devised to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (thus ANZACS) who served in the Gallipoli Campaign, their first engagement in World War I, (1914-1918).
It is a solemn day in Australia and New Zealand and rightly so. It honours the soldiers, irrespective of the right or wrong of the different wars they’ve participated in.
My father was born on the final day of this great war of the Anzacs, 11th November 1918. The eleventh of the eleventh 1918. This was called Armistice day, and as such his parents named him Ronald Armistice Robinson.
When his parents named him, they had just lived through ‘the war to end all wars’, and I’m sure they never thought that their son would have to not only live through another world war, but he would be in the thick of it.
But twenty-one years after that Armistice day, Britain and its allies were once again engaged in fighting the Germans, and the following year Japan sided with Germany. The United States soon entered the war when the Japanese bombed the American fleet in Pearl Harbour, on December 7, 1941. Then it became truly a ‘World’ war, where western countries were fighting for their independence and liberty.
My father, in his early 20’s, volunteered to fight to protect his country. The Japanese were fast approaching Australia through the Pacific and onto New Guinea. He found himself fighting in New Guinea, serving in 2 ‘tours’ there, first as a private and then as a corporal.
He was a strong man, having been bought up in North Queensland cutting sugar cane manually with machete-like cane knives for a living. Hard work! In the army with his broad shoulders and sun-tanned appearance he was soon nicknamed ‘Tarzan’ Robinson and given the job of carrying and using the heavy Bren machine gun.
The carrying of this gun that was used with a large magazine and a bipod support was suppose to be shared amongst the soldiers, but my father told us that the other carriers took little care with keeping the mud from the barrel and mechanism so he decided to make it his task to carry it, otherwise he was always be worried it would jam. (Australia and New Zealand have banned the ownership of such military style weapons today, but the Bren Gun was a necessary and formidable weapon in the second World War for the allies).
During the war he witnessed many acts of bravery. I remember him telling me about two inseparable friends. One of small stature and one a giant of a man. They went everywhere together and shared everything. In one combat the Australian soldiers held the height advantage on a small hill but were on the verge of being overrun by the Japanese. The smaller of the two mates was killed with a shot to his head. His large mate completely lost it and grabbed his rifle and as many grenades as he could carry and belted down the hill at the enemy yelling. He was firing and throwing the grenades at every target he saw.
The sight of this giant crazy man running at them, spitting bullets and wreaking havoc completely sent the enemy into panic. The Australians seized the opportunity, charged down the hill and won the battle. The man received a medal for the action. Whether it was bravery or something else, the men were thankful.
After the war was over my father returned to Australia and married my mother, who he adored. Like many men who returned it was hard to get him to speak about his experiences. I remember in the 1950’s he still suffered from bouts of malaria and recurring delirium, especially after reluctantly answering questions about the war from me and my 2 brothers.
When my mother died from melanoma in the early 1970’s he was devastated. I had just recently met my spiritual teacher and only been practicing kirtan meditation for a short time. I saw my father suffering and took him to his simple fishing cabin he had bought on the coast north of Brisbane. As his 23-year-old son there I was talking to my 50+ year old father about my mother. I was saying that she was not her body, that the person who he loved was the spirit soul we knew as his wife and I knew as my mother. Just because her body had died did not mean she did not still exist. I explained what my spiritual teacher had told me, that we are all like twigs in a stream, sometimes coming together, sometimes separating. I suggested we could pray for her well-being and that’s what we did.
I looked after and cooked for him and we spend time together for a week or two until I thought he was OK. Years later he told me that it had helped him greatly and he thanked me for spending that time with him.
My father loved muscle cars and owned a 1969 V8 Holden Monaro, white with a black racing stripe.
He lent me that car one time in about 1972 to pick up my spiritual teacher from the airport and drive him around while he had a short stay in Brisbane. Fun times! My father never had a problem with me in my spiritual quest. He left his body on 27th June 1986.
Which brings me to today, 5th April 2019.
World Wars I and II were wars that were necessarily fought. ‘Just’ wars if you like. Returned soldiers had a hard time adapting to ‘normal’ life. Many never recovered completely. Killing and seeing untold carnage was hard to deal with.
History has shown that most, if not all the wars that America and its allies (Australia, England etc.) have fought since WWII have been fought for less than noble reasons. Wars such as Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War (Kuwait and Iraq), Afghanistan, Iraq, and others, benefited the popularity of the sitting governments of America and Australia etc. and of course benefitted the huge arms companies and others who supplied war equipment.
Because four of my children live in America, I have been following the current American election for the 2020 President, and in particular the selection for the nominee from the Democratic Party to run against Donald Trump. Once again most of these nominees are for engaging in wars that basically are waged to change the leadership and governments of different countries so that they will be more sympathetic to America and the West. But one Democratic candidate stands out as not supporting these ‘regime change’ wars. And that is Tulsi Gabbard.
Yes, I am interested in her run for presidency because she is a Vaishnava Hindu, as am I. Because of this shared world view, I know that what she feels, what she does, and what she says, comes from her heart. Not only that but she has served as a soldier and has fought in two tours of action in Iraq and continues her service as a Major in the Army National Guard in America. She knows the suffering war can inflict, on both the country at war, and on the soldiers sent there to fight.
Without exception, the people in the countries at the center of these recent wars are worse off now than before!
The soldiers that returned from WWI and WWII had troubles enough, but at least they knew what they did was just. The soldiers that have returned, and are still returning, from these ‘regime change’ wars waged so America and others can benefit, are struggling to make sense of their service.
Of course, this is not the only policy that Tulsi Gabbard is running on, but it is one of the main policies setting her apart from the other Democratic hopefuls. So, if you are American, please check out the debates that Tulsi will be participating in, starting 26-27 June 2019.
For those interested, here is a great interview with Tulsi Gabbard about the need to stop being involved in regime changing wars and more, conducted by Kim Iversen, independent youtube political blogger:
This is an unusual post for me, being that it has a political element, but as we approach ANZAC day in Australia and New Zealand, I cannot help thinking of the sacrifices my father, and the soldiers in our countries have made, and continue to make. Lest we forget.