In the centre of town and in the cemetery, the cost of war is etched into metal and stone.
Dozens of Deniliquin residents have died in combat over time and chances are every resident of Deniliquin passes by the War Memorial (Cenotaph) every day and it is all but certain that it is looked at as everyone goes by it.
Every ANZAC Day we hear of spirit and heroics of those who were thrust into combat but today DNS wants to also think about the psychological costs of war the survivors of conflict pay.
From the First World War we read about trench warfare, the heavy rains, the charges from the trenches into oblivion, the constant shelling either killed or drove people mad and the piles of dead in the trenches and open fields.
Second World War was terror from above, war in the jungles where it was hard to see the enemy, camps where food was scarce and disease was running wild, the masses of dead in camps, towns and cities and so much more.
Korea was fought from South Korea to North Korea and back to South Korea in conditions that were freezing and frantic as momentum shifted almost daily between the UN and the North Koreans and the Chinese (with unofficial Russian assistance).
Vietnam was much like the Second World War but the enemy was everywhere and the weapons of destruction were heavier and deadlier, B-52’s in the air, Agent Orange and Napalm then the images of people fleeing South Vietnam in the final days of the conflict then for years afterward.
Vietnam lasted a lot longer than it’s end in 1975 as there was a decade plus of non acknowledgement as those who went to fight either professionally or drafted were ignored by the masses.
The genocide in Rwanda where Australians could only watch as hundreds of thousands died whilst rules of engagement prohibited them from shooting the killers unless those killers fired on those observing from above.
Conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq where soldiers don’t know if the cars in the streets are just your everyday vehicle or a bomb ready to be triggered and what is the person walking by carrying on them?
The above is a small snapshot of conflict through time, you could add conflicts like East Timor, Boer Wars, Gulf Wars, Malaya and some even ask do we think about the Australian Frontier Wars (English settlers vs Aborigines) that was fought for more than a century in Australia.
War affects us all, those who are killed are survived by their family and friends and they are in pain from the loss of those they love and those who survive war have to remember killing fellow human beings and also seeing the effects of destruction and for some it leads to PTSD, Depression, Anxiety and much more.
So today, think of those who died in conflict, think of those who got through their time in the armed forces, stop and wonder if those who got through it are getting the best in support and care from people and government agencies and hope that those who are currently in the armed forces all get through their time without having to kill or injure others or see something distressing from the air or ground.
Let us all hope that the war memorial doesn’t expand to include new conflicts and more names of dead in the future.
Picture from monumentaustralia.org.au