Today is Remembrance Day
and all around the City of Melbourne
are old men
selling red poppies and pins. I went up to one hunch
ed over old man in Burke Street Mall
and held out 80 cents towards his donation
tin. I told him that I didn't wish to purchase a red poppy
, but that I did wish to make a donation.
As my coins clinked into the tin, he looked at me and I was struck by his eyes. Maybe it was the bad light, maybe it was because I had worked a long day, but I swear I saw his eyes sparkle and in the depths I saw a young man. A young man running through the water-logged trenches. A young man killing and seeing death all around. A young man who lost his youth. And in that period where time seemed suspended, I realised that for a twist of fate, I could have been that young man going to war.
It suddenly made me appreciate, more than the history lessons in school ever could, the sacrifice that a generation of Australians made for me to have a safe country to live in. It was a humbling experience.
And as the old man insistently pushed a red poppy with his arthritic hands towards me, I realised that the best way to show my appreciation was to ensure that on days like Remembrance Day, I take the effort to show my support. Even if my support consists of only purchasing a single red poppy, it is an act which shows to all who see that I, a young Australian, have not forgotten the sacrifice that others have made for my benefit.
As I threaded the red poppy through the button hole in my jacket, I am reminded of the apt phrase: