Remembrance Day: Happiness is freedom and freedom is courage

Former Lance Corporal S.A. Kempton on a moment of gratitude for the ultimate sacrifice.

Remembrance Day is a solemn occasion observed on the 11th of November each year.

At 11am a minute of silence is observed to commemorate, pause, and reflect on the sacrifices made by both past and present members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), as well as all those who have served and died in wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping missions in the defence of our countries.

In addition to the one-minute silence, red poppies are often worn as a symbol of remembrance, inspired by the famous war poem In Flanders Fields, by John McCrae.

Having family members currently serving in the Australian Defence Force, and being a former solider myself, like my grandfather and his father before him, has given me some humbling insights.

The power of our moment of gratitude is immense and has positive, rippling impact on our current and former serving defence force members and their families.

Remembrance Day is certainly not about glorifying war, rather it’s about promoting peace.

Gratitude can serve as a reminder of the cost of war and encourage a commitment to more diplomatic and peaceful solutions.

The date, November 11, holds historical significance as it marks the end of World War I when the armistice was signed in 1918, ending the hostilities on the Western Front, and the hope that this was the war to end all wars.

Harcourts WA CEO Shane Kempton with his grandfather Ernest Gordon Kempton.

The power of our gratitude can bring emotional healing to veterans and their families.

It helps them feel valued and supported, especially if they have experienced the traumas of war.

Gratitude from the public and the community can provide a sense of belonging and understanding.

And for those currently serving, our gratitude can boost their morale, for they know that their courage and sacrifices are recognised and appreciated, motivating them to continue to serve with dedication and determination.

Our gratitude also creates a sense of inclusion and fosters unity between the military and civilian communities.

This bond between those who have served and those they have protected, creates a shared sense of purpose and responsibility, that often leads to an increased level of support for veterans and their families when they return to civilian life.

Most importantly, our gratitude on Remembrance Day and ANAZC Day, creates a culture of respect, remembrance, and gratefulness for how lucky we are to live in such free, prosperous, and peaceful countries.

It reminds society of the importance of acknowledging and preserving the memory of those who have given their lives for the preservation of our two beautiful nations and the fortunate lives we get to live today,

In summary, the power of gratitude on Remembrance Day in remembering the sacrifices of defence forces lies in its ability to honour, heal, motivate, and strengthen the connections between those who serve and the wider community.

It also plays a crucial role in advocating for the wellbeing of veterans and working toward a more peaceful world.

Gratitude serves as a bridge between the past sacrifices and the ongoing commitment to respect and support those who serve and have served our countries.

I will close today’s article with something deeply personal.

It’s an exert from my grandfathers war diary. My grandfather, Ernest Gordon Kempton, was in the 2/16 and a Kokoda Track veteran.

He passed away in 2011, but this diary entry is from the day World War II ended and the expression of gratitude he shares in his words.

It also includes a secret entry from my grandmother that my grandfather found whilst overseas on active duty.

“Have no feeling. Cease Fire. 930pm – NEVER FORGET. Thinking of all the folks at home- THANK GOD and bless all our POWs and any other personnel on combat duty. Oh I’m so happy. Search lights everywhere. Artillery firing their guns in joy not anger. RELIEF AND HAPPINESS. One night I’ll never forget. Dear God, thank you on behalf of humanity. God bless everyone.

Halfway through his diary, on a blank page away from his daily entries, I found a secret and special message from my Nan to Pop.

She obviously wrote this without his knowledge before he was deployed overseas, so he would find it when he was away in some strange country.

Nan wrote:

My Husband – oh how I love this husband of mine. So tender, loving and so fine. Never have I known such true love, for which I thank the lord above.

My Pop’s response are words which every man and woman of any era could take great wisdom from.

It is with these words I leave you with to think about on Remembrance Day.

“Happiness is freedom and freedom is courage.”

Lest we Forget.

Shane Kempton, CEO Harcourts WA

(former Lance Corporal S.A. Kempton 5800619 – 1CSSB and SASR)

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Shane Kempton

Shane Kempton is the CEO of Harcourts WA and the network high performance coach.