It is said that one of life’s greatest tragedies is for a parent to outlive their child. To lose a son or daughter in a foreign land in service of their country is unimaginable. Yet this has been the fate of 41 Australian parents who have lost their sons in Afghanistan, and it has been the fate of countless others whose children’s lives have been tragically cut short as a result of their time in the Defence Forces.
A nation’s sympathies are with these parents as their children are returned home to be laid to rest. Communities gather together to mourn the loss of a local hero and honour their sacrifice. However, when the media attention eases off, and those left behind try return to ‘normal’ routine, it is the small gestures that can make a huge difference.
Sandy Moerland, Mother of Sapper Jacob "Snowy" Moerland 2CER who, at age 21, was killed in Afghanistan on 7 June 2010, reflects thankfully on the support of the RSL.
“As Remembrance Day approaches I would like to take this opportunity to publicly thank my local RSL sub branch of Gayndah for their continued love and support. They silently watch over me looking for opportunities to help, especially at my farm.
I look daily at the flag on my pole supplied by them and smile, thinking of how much my dear son loved his country and how proud he was to serve alongside his mates.
On the days like Remembrance Day when we stand together at our Cenotaph no words need to be spoken. Their loss is mine and my loss is theirs.”
Representatives from Sandy’s local RSL Sub Branch tenderly watch over her. They were on hand to provide immediate assistance to Sandy on news of Jacob’s passing. They take on odd jobs around her farm. And, each week, they haul her wheelie bins to the footpath as a simple demonstration of their ongoing care and support.
It is our honour and privilege to give back to those who have given so much for us. Whether it is a parent who has lost a child, a wife whose husband has not been the same since his return from service, an injured or ill serviceman or woman who requires rehabilitation, a veteran who is struggling to gain their rightful entitlements, or a defence mate who simply needs a helping hand, there is no formula for our assistance.
Every person who comes to us has a different story.
It is our commitment to provide them with welfare and support, honour the memories of the fallen, preserve the spirit of mateship, and promote the interests of those who serve and have served our country.