Lest We Forget
Alexis Clarke, Head of Secondary (Welfare)
Recently, one of my history students Lucy, shared the findings of her own “archaeological dig” in her family’s treasure trove of old books. Lucy excavated a unique artefact from between the pages of a school book which belonged to her grandfather. The artefact was a 1930s newspaper clipping about one of her ancestors, Frederick “Dan” Minchin. Minchin was a lieutenant colonel in the British army during World War I. The article was about his adventurous life. It was a fascinating read, with a narrative which I believe, would make an excellent film. Minchin is the protagonist; a military hero on a quest to achieve a new record. We read anecdotes about Minchin’s home life and aircraft battles. The story even features a princess!
At first glance, I thought the article was going to be about Minchin’s service in World War I, with a description of a battle or two and possibly, his unfortunate death in service of others. The article does describe Minchin’s courage, humility, gallantry, determination and the sacrifice he made to serve his country but the author focuses on Minchin’s last flight. On 31 August 1927, Minchin, Captain Leslie Hamilton and their passenger, Princess Anne of Ludwig Lowenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg attempted to travel east to west across the Atlantic, from England to Canada. The three adventurers made the attempt in a large Dutch Fokker FVII monoplane and, unfortunately, never arrived at their intended destination, nor were they seen again. It is thought the aircraft went down in the North Atlantic Ocean within a short distance of the coastline. The author describes Minchin as a man with the “heart of a lion” who had the “courage of a wild boar” and was one of “Britain’s bravest knights of the air”. What an honour it would have been to read about a family member described in this way. I am grateful to Lucy for sharing her ancestor’s story.
We all share a common story that features royalty, sacrifice and an attempt to do something no one on earth had done before. Our common story is about Jesus Christ, who gave his own life on a Roman cross to atone for the sins of mankind; a feat which no one else could accomplish.
Yesterday, Monday 25 April, the nation stopped to remember those who sacrificed their lives for us. ANZAC Day is the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I. The annual ANZAC Day services held around Australia are the result of the efforts of David Garland, a military chaplain who wanted to commemorate the sacrifice of the ANZACs and point others to Christ’s sacrifice as well. Last week, Bishop Kevin Russell reflected on the importance of these services:
In remembering, we are reminded that war is destructive, combat is devastating, and the human beings touched by it are affected physically, emotionally and spiritually. We should be a grateful people never forgetting, nor failing to esteem, the sacrifices of ordinary Aussies. We remember the sacrifice of those who went before us because there is something noble about sacrifice, isn’t there?
And the sacrifice of Jesus is still at the centre of the symbolism of Anzac Day with its crosses for the fallen, the sacrificial language, the reverence. The oft used quote from John’s gospel highlights Jesus’ sacrifice:
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their life for their friends.”
On Good Friday, we remembered the sacrifice of the perfect man, God incarnate, Jesus, who died in our place, in my place and in your place. What a loving God we have, who foots the bill of our redemption, and offers us our freedom and dignity, life eternal, heaven as a gift! You and I don’t have to do anything except accept the gift, and then of course we will want to live for Him out of gratitude for the amazing love He showed us in laying down his life for us. What a sacrifice!
The story of ANZAC touches a deep part in all of us. It’s a story of sacrificial living and giving and loving. The precious threads of sacrifice, love and hope are woven right through the ANZAC story, and they resonate with what Jesus did for humanity… We have all benefited from their death and Jesus death.
Lest we forget.
May I encourage you to talk with others about the sacrifices made for us, including the story we are all invited to share; HIS story.