Sacrifice—lest we forget

It is the 105th Anniversary of Anzac Day today and I am reposting one of my most meaningful words of the week. Sacrifice means to give something of value, often altruistically, with the hope of gaining something in return or to avoid greater loss. And from this comes supreme sacrifice: to give your life in the belief that others may gain from it.

Sacrifice comes into the language from Middle English from Latin and literally means to make sacred.

In 2006 I went on a four-day tour of the Somme battlefields in France. I visited Pozieres— the highest point of the battlefields—which the Australians took but in doing so ‘fell more thickly on this ridge than on any other battlefield of the war’ as the plaque bears witness.

I visited the French war museum at Peronne. Australian flags fly throughout the town because the Australians liberated it in 1918.

And the Australian War Memorial near Villiers Bretonneux, where on ANZAC Day 1918, the Australians retook the town and stopped the German advance.

As important as these places are the most moving place of all was Beaumont Hamel. Here the Newfoundlers took the most casualties of any force on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. A piece of verse written for them equally applies for all who died on the Somme, at Gallipoli and on all the world’s battlefields.

Tread softly here! Go reverently and slow! …
…For not one foot of this dank sod but drank
Its surfeit of the blood of gallant men.
Who for their faith their hope – for life and liberty
Here made the sacrifice – here gave their lives
And gave right willingly – for you and me.

Lest we forget.