What is a veteran ?
Some veterans bear visible signs of there service; a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them; a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in a leg-or perhaps another sort of inner steel; the souls alloy forged in the refinery of adversity.
However , the men and women who kept Australia safe wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet by just looking.
SO WHAT IS A VETERAN ?
He ia a cop on the beat who spent six months in Iraq sweating 6 litres a day making sure the armoured personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.
He is the bar room yobbo, thick as a short plank, whose drunken antics are outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the East Timor border.
She or he is the nurse who fought against futility , and went to bed sobbing every night for 12 months in Vung Tau .
He is the parade riding Anzac who pins on his medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.
He is one of the forgotten soldiers that fought on the one man front in Kokoda or held back the Chinese onslaught at Kapyong.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another – or didn't come back at all.
He is the drill instructor , who has never seen combat – but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy , no account larrikins and no hopers into diggers, and teaching them the creed of mateship.
He is the Vietnam veteran sundered from society that sent him to war, he was rejected but did not reject the call to arms by the people who would vilify him for doing his duty.
He is the anonymous warrior in the tomb of the unknown soldier,whose presence at the Australian war memorial forever preserves the memory of all diggers whose valour dies unrecognised with them on the battlefield, in the sky, or in the oceans sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the local store palsied now and aggravatingly slow , who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is a soldier and a saviour and a bulwark against the darkness and he represents nothing more than the finest most noble facets of mans existence.
He is an ordinary and yet extraordinary human being, a person who offered some of his most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his tomorrow for your today.
So remember this Anzac day when you see the lined and weary face of a digger reliving the loss of mates in a faraway land or trying to make sense of horrors no person should endure, just lean over and say “THANK YOU”
Soldier, Sailor or Airman...let them know that you have not forgotten.
For those that are left , that simple act will be enough.