Today, the 11th of November is Remembrance Day. The day we remember our fallen soldiers who fought and died for our way of life. Soldiers who were drafted or volunteered, to make the planet a better place. To fight oppression, and for us to live free.
In the Great War, our planet’s first war where countries all over the globe participated, we fought against German Nationalism. Germany sought to absorb the countries around it, relentlessly bulldozing their way through Europe. Further south, the fascist Ottoman Empire was doing the same thing. Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, The United States, and several countries of Europe and the Middle East fought against these war machines, pushing them back. Forcing Germany to surrender, and leading to the fall of the Ottoman Empire. We fought against fascism and nationalism, and we were victorious.
After the First World War, Australia (and other nations) took in refugees fleeing from their countries. Their homes were destroyed, their families killed, their possessions forgotten. They came from Europe, they came from the Middle East. Many of them did not even know that English was a language and had never heard it spoken before. Yet they came. They integrated, and they made our countries better for it.
During the Second World War, Germany, this time a fascist nation, which grew from the seeds of discontent, again decided to usurp Europe for itself leaving nothing behind. It wanted Great Britain, Russia and even Africa to itself. Several countries – Italy, Hungary, Romania, etc – allied with Germany, out of fear, or because they thought there would be more to gain by allying with them. In the east the Japanese Imperial Army, another fascist, nationalist country, were attacking and absorbing territory from China, Korea, Indonesia, and the rest of South East Asia, attacking the United States in Hawaii, even coming as close as to bomb Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia. Their ambitions proved fruitless as again Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, The United States, Canada, and many other nations joined forces to push back the conquering aggressors and end the war. Once again, the victory went to the forces fighting for freedom, and against fascism.
Once again, refugees fled their former countries, in Europe, in Africa, in Asia. Australia accepted not only refugees but people who just wanted a better life than living in war-torn Europe. Even soldiers who fought for the Axis powers were allowed to immigrate to Australia, rebuilding their lives here. We welcomed them with open arms, they integrated with us within a generation and our culture learned and grew from their input.
The Korean war, and the Vietnam war were the next wars that these allied nations joined together for, fighting the aggressive expanding Communist Chinese in Korea, leading to the liberation of the southern part, which became the Republic of Korea. China supported the Vietnamese bid for independence from the French by providing arms and war equipment, as well as funds and soldiers. We fought this war to prevent the toxic nationalism of China from possibly spreading further through Asia and into the Pacific. Fears that communism and nationalistic policy would make its way throughout the world unless it was stopped fuelled the war that Australian, New Zealand, British and American soldiers (amongst others) died for. Communism and Nationalism was not compatible with our way of life, and we were not prepared to allow it to continue to flow out of China.
The Vietnam War created tens of thousands of refugees who fled in rickety boats from Vietnam. Many of their boats ended up in Australia, their occupants terrified and sick. We allowed them into our nation, we allowed them to integrate with our culture and become Australians. Our cultural backbone once again strengthened with their addition.
The Cold War lasted decades, from after the war until 1991. During this period there was only muted fighting. The Russians had supported the Chinese during the Korean and Vietnamese war. No actual fighting was done between the two great nations of the USA and Russia. However during this period, thousands upon thousands of people fled the Eastern Bloc into the west of Europe, over or under the Berlin Wall to West Germany. To the United States. To the UK, and to Australia. These people have also been important for our cultures.
Our allied powers once again fight against nationalism and fascism in the Middle East, against Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, Qaddafi, Assad and the Islamic State. We create refugees because we fight the terrifying ideals of their leaders. Their leaders who want to impose strict religious rule upon the rest of the world. To impose strict fascist laws upon every nation, and to control us with fear and threaten us with destruction. Their ideals that are not shared by a majority of their people, the people who flee towards freedom. The people who escape those countries in the most dangerous ways because it’s more safe to sit in the ocean on a boat barely holding together than stay under the rule of their oppressors for any longer.
We only strengthen our nation with the blood, sweat and tears of people who join our country to live free, who wish only to make their lives in a free country, to have their children in a free country, and for their children and their children’s children to grow up free.
Australia is a free country.
This is what our soldiers died for. Freedom. Against fascism, against nationalism, against war, and for the safety of the oppressed.
Lest We Forget.