To my Australian and New Zealand brothers and sisters out there happy Anzac Day. I hope that the spirit of the ANZAC’s that have gone before us will remain with us forever and enable us to continue to punch above our weight both at home and abroad.
I have a story for you that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald…written by the former rugby playing great Peter Fitzsimmons who is now a rugby analyst and journalist prior to Australia playing and defeating our greatest rivals New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup in 2003. I have always kept this article with me close at hand because it has always reminded me of what generations of Australian’s before me were capable of…to me this is what being Australian is all about. Below is a excerpt of the article:
In 1998, on a tour of France, the Australian rugby team stopped at a windswept cemetery on the edge of the village of Villers Brettonneux where hundreds of young Australian men their age had lain six feet beneath the sod since the darkest days of WWI. The team was profoundly moved as they wandered among the grave-stones in the chill air.
Just a year later, in his final address to the Wallabies in the bowels of Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, just before they went out to face the French in the 1999 World Cup final, Macqueen referred back to a story from that battlefield. It concerned an Australian Lieutenant by the name of F.P Bethune, a clergyman at home, who found himself in charge of 20 Australian soldiers in a particularly bloody battle of the war.
In March of 1918, it fell to Bethune’s men to hold the line against the marauding Germans. The Australians were clearly outnumbered, and outgunned, and nearby British forces considered their position suicidal. But it was crucial to the rest of the Allies that they at least try to hold the line, and the only way out was total resolve. If one man wavered they were lost. Lieutenant Bethune gathered his men and gave them written orders.
And the orders went like this, Macqueen said, clearing his throat, and trying to keep his own emotions in check, as he read from the piece of paper in his hand.
This position will be held, and the section will remain here until relieved. The enemy cannot be allowed to interfere with the program. If the section cannot remain here alive, it will remain here dead, but in any case it will remain here. Should any man through shell-shock or other cause attempt to surrender, he will remain here dead. Should all guns be blown out, the section will use Mills grenades and other novelties. Finally, the position, as stated, will be held.
“And guys,” he finished. “They held their position.” After that point, not another word was spoken, as the Wallabies went out the door, down the tunnel, and into the roar of a World Cup final, to return victorious some 90 minutes of football later.