We pause on the 11th of November to remember all of those who fought and died for our country. Their sacrifice was the highest that any being can make.
The human cost of war is incalculable, not only in terms of the loss of life of the individuals concerned, but also regarding the grief caused to those nearest and dearest to them; the emotional pain and suffering felt by the friends and family of those who died is enormous, and lasts as long as the survivors live; although time may lessen the pain, it never goes away.
We should also think of all of those who served and suffered, but came back alive. Many of them had lost limbs, had dreadful wounds, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or “shell shock” — the effects of which stayed with many returned veterans all their lives. They sacrificed much just by going to war, and they kept on paying for it even when they came back.
However, one of the worst aspects of such loss of life is that of the lost human potential. For example, most of the more than sixty thousand men we lost in the First World War would have gone on to have families and children, with their millions of descendants populating this nation. Those who were already married with children may have gone on to have more. The potential contribution of those millions of unborn children could have been enormous. They may have gone on to create brilliant inventions, cure cancer, or become artists of high talent; we will never know what we have truly lost.
On Remembrance Day we should remember the sacrifice made by those who served and died in the service of the nation; but we should also remember the ongoing costs of their loss to our nation. The lives of our military personnel, and the lives of Australians in general, are too precious to squander. Those reasons combined should give us pause for thought before we ever go to war again.