By Joanna Delalande
Hours before his death, a young Australian wrote a letter to his wife
On ANZAC day we remember men like Lieutenant Herbert Crowle who gave his life in the battle for the French village of Pozières in July 1916.
According to Australian historian Charles Bean, the Pozières ridge "is more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth".
Lieutenant 'Bert' sees a friend, a fellow officer, is badly wounded, and he runs to his side. As he runs, two machine-gun bullets hit his thigh; another glances off his water bottle and another off the periscope he has in his pocket. He is carried on a stretcher for four miles to reach the Australian line as bullets whistle back and forth past the stretcher-bearers.
Bert's wounds fester in the month he spends in hospital. Hours before his death on August 25, he writes a letter to his wife :
"You must be prepared for the worst to happen any day," he tells her.
"The pain is getting worse and worse.
"Give my love to Dear Bill and yourself, do take care of yourself and him."
We love remembering stories like Bert's — stories of sacrifice and courage.
For the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing last year, a record crowd of 150,000 gathered for the ANZAC Day services at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.
ANZAC Day is even said to have replaced Australia Day as our country's national day. It is a day where we commemorate the people who gave their lives, lost their loved ones, experienced trauma beyond what we could ever comprehend for their country. And we hope that somehow, by doing this, we can let ourselves and the world know how grateful, how in awe we are of these heroes.
We feel the people whom the stories belong to deserve to be remembered.
Bert sacrificed his life in service of his country, his family and his friend. Such stories are sad but they also give us hope.
There is another story like it. Jack spent his life doing hurtful things; he stole, he lied, he even killed.
The police eventually caught him and were about to take him away to ultimately serve a life sentence for his crimes when his estranged father rushed up to stop them. Jack's father had never broken a single law; but he loved his son overwhelmingly despite all the terrible things he had done.
His father begged the police to let him take the punishment on his son's behalf. They agreed and as he was led away Jack stood there in tears as he witnessed his dad's loving sacrifice for him.
“You must be prepared for the worst to happen any day”At that moment Jack vowed to make his father proud by turning away from all the wrong things he had been doing. He committed to restoring his relationship with his father by visiting him regularly in prison.
That is like my personal story too. It's also your story. We disappoint God – our Heavenly Father – constantly when we lie, cheat, ignore Him and hurt people we love. We actually deserve punishment for those things.
Yet someone stepped up and said He would pay the price instead; that He would give his life up on the cross so we might continue to live; just because He loves us that much.
His name is Jesus, and He is why I try to live my life in a way that pleases Him. I owe it to Him. He has taken all the punishment for me. I am forgiven. I am free.
We remember the ANZAC soldiers for sacrificing their lives for our freedom's sake. We should also remember Jesus' sacrifice that has restored our relationship with God and given us the ultimate freedom.•