"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old …." — from the fourth stanza from Laurence Binyon's poem For the Fallen.
As I hear these words over the next few days, I cannot help but think of my father, as I know many of you will be thinking of fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers and the wonderful women who gave so much for us all.
Dear Dad, I think about you often, but never more than remembering you lead the Anzac Day parade. From a young girl learning to type and typing up the Anzac Services for you, listing the order and names of the bearers of the wreaths — to bringing my family from wherever we lived, to stand with Mum and watch you march and call the commands. You were an angel to me.
You never talked much about serving overseas and I learned more about what you did as a soldier after you died than I ever heard from you. I learned that you were a crack shot with the rifle, a sharpshooter who, even when shot in your arm, propped yourself up inside the house with the other wounded and shot any enemy soldiers who came to the door, saving the lives of many men. You were a man's man, showed few emotions, yet provided well. You and Mum sacrificed having your own children to serve your country and adopted when it was all over.
Guns were a part of your life and hunting was your passion. Every weekend you could, you were away in the bush somewhere shooting game, supplementing our meals with venison, wild pork, and, at the appropriate times, duck and pheasant. You needed only one gun and mostly one shot. When I was young you taught me to shoot a 44 calibre lever-action Winchester. I loved pretending to be a cowboy. However, when I realised guns could kill, I coughed, spluttered, whistled and sang to put you off shooting. You stopped taking me shooting with you after that.
It was said that in your 80th year, you shot a deer while bouncing along a track spotlighting late one night on the back of a 4-wheel drive. The young men with you thought you were seeing things, until they backed up, looked in the undergrowth where you directed them and found the dead deer. I know that later in your life the only things you shot were photos.
I'm wondering what you might think of semi and fully automatic guns. I imagine you saying, "A good shooter only needs one shot and only take what you can eat". I cannot imagine you needing to spray shots around with an automatic gun.
Guns, killing and people of different beliefs have been in the headlines lately Dad. It is sad and even influencing Anzac Services this year. I cannot imagine killing anything, but you know that.
Rest in peace 2nd Lieutenant Walter John Barrow, 24 Infantry Battalion, my Dad. I will hold your army hat and medals close to my heart as I do every Anzac Day and say these words I remember so well: "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". Arohanui.