Maybe because it’s personal in a way it never was for us now. Maybe because with every year that goes by I long for peace in a way I never knew I could long for anything. Maybe because there is a boy {despite the man he was becoming, he was still SO young} who will never be with his family again. Will never light up a room with his cheeky smile. Never got to set foot on Australian soil again.

I remember one night you regaled us with stories of your chosen career. Arms waving, voice raised with excitement and pride. Boasting, in a way only you could get away with, that you would out rank your brother in no time. Boyish. Cheeky. Committed. We remember you like that. Kel and I. That’s who you will always be for us. A small part of the big memory you have left behind. A big hole for so many. This is our tiny place, our moment of your sunshine. A solider. A friend. An uncle. A brother. A son.

Lest we forget. But we won’t forget. We’ll never forget.

{I really hope you’ll pop over and read the Anzac Day post my brother wrote. It makes me cry. He lost a friend and his best mate lost his little brother. It’s going to be a hard day for these guys. Please send your love. xox}

edit: post transcribed below.

Anzac day 2011 was the last time I saw Ash. We shared a beer at breakfast and a few too many at the RSL before we headed back to his olds place for a few (A LOT) more drinks.

My best mate Dale and his brother Ashley were heading to Afghanistan in the coming months.The best way to catch up before they left was showing my respect to them and the past service men and women was on ANZAC DAY. At the end of the day I wished them safe travels and headed home.

It wasn’t long later that I saw them on the news in their QLD State Of Origin jersey’s in the middle of the desert playing footy. The next thing I know Ash is being interviewed by Channel Ten (from memory) about being in Afghan with his brother and what it was like serving overseas together.

Another few months went by with next to no contact. It was starting to get close to the time when the boys were due to return home… I was woken early one morning by a phone call. It was my best mates partner… She spoke to my wife and I could tell by the look on her face it wasn’t good. She was ringing to say Ash had been shot and killed in Afghanistan…

I will never forget that day for as long as I live. I have heard stories from my uncle who served in Vietnam, as well as on the news BUT you never think it will be someone you know.

I have lost my fair share of people in my life but I cannot start to begin to understand how my best mate would have felt and still feels today having lost his brother and best mate. I don’t want to be a burden but I want him to know I’m always here and happy to help with ANYTHING.

I was asked to speak at Ash’s funeral which was a huge honour. I had NO IDEA how I would but somehow I got through it. Somewhere from deep inside comes strength, a feeling that you have a job to do and you get it done. I saw the same determination on my cousin’s face when he spoke at his dad’s funeral.

So 1 year on from my last catch up with Ash. Just a week after what would have been his 23rd birthday it is ANZAC DAY again. I will today attend the dawn service and I will give thanks to those who have served our country BUT today will never be the same again.

I am honored to have known Ash and to call him a mate. I am proud of all those men and women past and present who serve this great nation….and particularly grateful to those who fought and died in the service of this great country and to their families left behind. I raise a glass.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
This is now my ANZAC DAY storey…

Who are you proud of?
Who do you remember on this day?

  • Carly Findlay

    Thank you for writing about this Melissa.
    Too often we forget the modern casualties of war.
    My thoughts are with you and your brother and the family of that brave young man.

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      You’re so welcome Carly. I agree. The numbers may not be as high, but the loss is just as personally felt by each and every parent, brother and friend. Thank you for your thoughts. xox

  • sheribombblog

    I can’t even watch war movies, they make me too sad. This day always leaves me feeling a strange mixture of pride, respect, deep gratitude and a pervading sadness. Usually I think about my grandad while paying my respects to our past and present service men and women, he made it home in one piece from WWII to live to a ripe old age. As thankful as I am for that, the mental scars were always there. Today I will also be thinking about Ash, his family and friends. Thank you for sharing such beautiful memories, as I didn’t know Ash this is a lovely way to know of him.

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      I appreciate the space to be able to talk about it. It definitely impacts people in so many different ways. Thanks for sharing. xo

  • That’s a beautiful memorial, I’ve never seen one so pretty.
    Your story is also beautiful.
    I don’t really “do” Anzac day, wars horrify and outrage me.

    • Melissa Walker Horn

      Thanks River. I haven’t met a person yet you isn’t horrified or outraged by war. Solider or otherwise. I don’t believe it’s about war at all, it’s about service and sacrifice. Perhaps if people remembered more often the cost of war, there would be less cause or call for it.

  • Emma Hinchliff

    This is beautiful Liss! We Will Remember Them.

    • Thank you. He’s captured the emotions, so beautifully. Life, gah, so hard sometimes.

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