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The Young Men Shall Not Grow Old

The Young Men Shall Not Grow Old


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Lest we forget.

World War I.  ‘Twas the war to end all wars. Countless young men, teenagers most of them, were sent to the front, into the very fires of hell it seemed, to be slaughtered. And so many young women were sent to far-off, distant and unfamiliar lands, to care for and support our fighting men.

In WWI, over 60,000 Australians and almost 17,000 New Zealanders were killed. That of course, is only the tip of the iceberg.

Countless more were injured and maimed. And the psychological after-effects of war hit not only the families of that generation, but lingered on to impact their children, and their children’s children.

At the heart of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At the National War Memorial in Wellington, New Zealand lies the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior (He Toa Matangaro No Aotearoa).

As a former serving Army Officer – albeit one who blessedly never saw active service – I have stood many a time beside the Tomb of the Unknown Solder in Canberra. Words cannot describe the feeling as the hairs on the back of your neck rise up, and your eyes become misty, at the sheer privilege of standing beside this man’s remains. I return there as often as I can, to stand beside this young lad, who gave his life for my freedom.

No greater love has any man than to lay down his life for his friends.

Since the War to End All Wars, many more Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women have put their lives on the line for you and me. Some have lost their lives. Others have come back irreparably damaged. My thoughts turn to the many returned sailors, soldiers and airmen who, together with their families, are suffering the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – lives and families continue to be torn apart by the ravages of war.

On this day, ANZAC day, my thoughts go out to the countless men and women who have been prepared to walk into the dangers and the ravages of war on my behalf. To preserve my freedom. To keep me safe from tyranny.

The sacrifices that they have made and are continuing to make, and for many of them the blood that they spilled, is something that I treasure above anything that words can express.

It is time, on this most solemn of days, ANZAC day, for each man, woman and child in the tiny nations of Australia and New Zealand, to pause and remember.

Lest we forget.


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Related Post:  ANZAC Day 2012


  1. Lest we forget.

    It is very apt to use this last line of the Ode of Remembrance to call upon Australians to remember the defence forces who have given their lives in service of our country.

    But it’s original meaning has been lost, I think. Rudyard Kipling coined the phrase in a poem / song that I used to sing at school ANZAC Day ceremonies, but which I rarely hear these days. It certainly hasn’t been sung at the Gallipoli or Villers-Brettoneux Dawn Services I’ve watched on TV in recent years.

    Kipling wrote “The Recessional” in 1897 for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. What he urged by the phrase was that the nation should not forget the significant responsibility we have to manage the affairs of the world in humility under God and remain steadfastly faithful to Christ. It is a prayer that we might be spared from war – or at least that we won’t be the cause of wars through unrighteous behaviour. It is also a prayer that we won’t be boastful in victory.

    ANZAC Day was often criticised as ‘glorifying war’. I never saw it that way because Lest We Forget was taught to me properly, using Kipling’s sense as well as in the sense of remembering the fallen, whose lives have been the cost of national failure to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

    (Which doesn’t mean I’m a pacifist. If another nation is the aggressor then it is the loving thing for the government of our country to defend us. We need a well trained and equipped defence force – and to work and pray like crazy that they’ll never be needed.)

    Here is Kipling’s marvellous poem:

    God of our fathers, known of old—
    Lord of our far-flung battle line—
    Beneath whose awful hand we hold
    Dominion over palm and pine—
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    The tumult and the shouting dies—
    The Captains and the Kings depart—
    Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
    An humble and a contrite heart.
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    Far-called our navies melt away—
    On dune and headland sinks the fire—
    Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
    Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
    Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
    Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
    Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
    Or lesser breeds without the Law—
    Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
    Lest we forget—lest we forget!

    For heathen heart that puts her trust
    In reeking tube and iron shard—
    All valiant dust that builds on dust,
    And guarding calls not Thee to guard.
    For frantic boast and foolish word,
    Thy Mercy on Thy People, Lord!

  2. hi John, just saying in Luke 3: 14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages. Jesus did not say don’t be a soldier, just do what is right. untill He comes back there will be wars and rumor of wars. He also cames back as the Lion of Judah. we, as His children, fight against evil where ever we can, that is why we put on the armor 🙂 not against flesh and blood but against spiritual darkness. see Ephesians 6: 10- 20. bless you

  3. Hi Berni ,and hi to both Margaret and John, if we all think of war for a moment war has been with us to long now.War is mentioned in the Bible and God was there for the Israelites and sometimes allowed things to happen for reasons the enemy wants to attack our countries, but for rhyme nor reason. What do we understand why we go to war, whereever we come from or what side we are on i think we can all say that we all have lost a brother or father,great grandfather or sisters and friends family and, deeply felt in everyones hearts. God says we must love our enemy and love our neighbours as ourselves.War solves nothing like the song, what have we learnt about it but,sometimes if we dont go to war how do we defend our neighbours and other countries we can say what would God say about all this, leave it to Him,countries are asked to aid them in fighting against tirranny and war though this seems senseless governments must act in this manner for countries must engage in war seemingly but,to remember the fallen soldiers comes with both honor and dignity , i would think it a privilage to do so on this occasion as this (ANZACS) and the respect that comes across on both sides of humanity a dawn service just think on this and reflect a moment what would it be like to be at one. Both my wife will say, we say this every year and we have not gone one service yet we live in a town called Timaru (New Zealand) nearly 20 years we have been here and not once have we been to our epitaph to commemorate these fallen heroes who layed down their lives for freedom a 100 years ago, the atmisphere there must be something special standing side by side with these old soldiers and present ones sharing the memory with them, you know, what were they thinking of when they went to war as young men who fought for valour in a place forein to them all.I know for me hearing the last post i get a sense every year of remembering them it just leaves feeling humbled of it all even though im not there.Thats my blog on a different perspective? Kirk & Sharon

  4. Please note, It’s not my intention to offend anyone in this post.

    As a Christian, I never understood when people say…, We must remember the people who sacrificed for us, who fought for our freedom…and let me explain my background…, I lived in a lot of countries that been in wars in the past, some of them that even fought against Australia at some point in different wars, I’ve had grand-grand and grand parents who were part of these wars too.

    so I often ask myself, if I do remember someone’s son or daughter who fought for this nation, Am I also dishonoring the people who fought against them?

    There are times I think, how can I honor someone who actually “killed” other human beings for whatever reason…freedom, resources, political, etc…etc.
    We humans justify ourselves in everything we do. Including my family…

    and then I turn to what God says….

    God actually hates weapons…, when Jesus was about to be taken…, Peter raised the sword, and what Jesus told him to do? to put it down.

    Matthew 26:52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

    God teaches us further in Romans 12:19-21
    19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

    “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
    if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
    In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

    21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    God has an army of angels with Him, far more powerful than any army of this world, and yet He humbled himself, and gave himself to his enemies as Jesus Christ, instead of fighting back.

    If we are followers of Christ…, aren’t we required to do the same? and if So…
    I wonder…, What does God think about ANZAC day? What does it mean to Him?

    If I had to guess…would be “His Children killing each other”….Cain & Abel all over again…

    The difficult part of being a Christian is focusing on whatever is of Importance or dear to Christ, rather than whatever is of importance or dear to myself.

    Just my 2 cents with a “Different Perspective”

    • Hi John

      Your post did not offend me and I’m an Australian whose great grandparents and grand parents have fought for this country. One of my great grandpa’s also fought in the battle of the Black and Tans in Ireland and the Boer War – so there is a long history in my family of young men going off to war.

      Remembering the men and women who have given us our freedom to live in this country is important as it is (I believe) to remember the people who fought against us – not with hate, because that is just a part of history and it cannot be changed. Men and women from other nations who fought against us were doing what they were supposed to do just as we were doing what we were supposed to do. Governments cause wars and the soldiers are doing their jobs. There were good and bad soldiers on both sides of all wars. There would have been Christian soldiers in the German army and men of God possibly in the Japanese army (sorry I’m not sure what religion the Japanese predominately follow – just speaking for World War 1 here).

      In the Old Testament there were many wars where whole towns were wiped out – men, women, children and even the animals.

      Jesus spoke the words you wrote, but does God want us to be walked all over? I don’t believe so. Sometimes it is necessary to go to war as we unfortunately live in a world where evil exists.

      I am forever grateful to the men and women who have allowed me to live in a country of freedom. Where people from other countries of the world can come here and live without fear also.

      The people in my family John who lost love ones to wars fortunately do not hate the people from countries who fought against us – not always the case. Your family did as I mentioned above what they had to do.

      God Bless,

  5. Anzac Day is one day I hold dear to my heart. As a Viet vets dsughter & an Army brat to boot I can capture the Spirit of your message & thank you greatly
    Kez L Parker

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