In loving respect for Australians and New Zealanders who served, or are serving, their country and are customarily remembered on Anzac Day, 25 April. Lest we forget.
Australian soldiers during a quiet moment while out on patrol in Afghanistan in 2011. Photo: Gary Ramage, Image courtesy of The Australian War Memorial.
Welcome to the We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB for April 2018. We have crested the wave and are now in our second year! Thanks so much to all our writers and followers.
Our valiant co-hosts for this month are Shilpa Garg, Michelle Wallace, Mary Giese, Dan Antion and yours truly.
Gary Ramage admits he’s seen too much death. As a former soldier and one of Australia’s leading news photographers, Ramage has been in and out of war zones for more than 20 years.
From mass graves in Kosovo, to a young girl crying in Somalia, and a soldier and his dog sleeping together on the ground for warmth in Afghanistan, Ramage’s images capture confronting and moving moments in war as he returns again and again to the front line to tell the stories of the men and women who can’t speak for themselves.
“I have seen things that I can’t unsee,” Ramage said. “[But] I can get through by reminding myself of the simple rule I live by: in wars where nothing seems to matter, I can take pictures in which every person counts.”
The Australian War Memorial blog continues:
The collection of images is now being used by the Memorial to help tell the stories of Australian men and women serving in Afghanistan, and the archway picture will be used in commemorative brochures and booklets for Anzac Day.
“I’m very proud of what I achieved over there, but I wouldn’t have been able to do what I did photographically without the diggers on the ground or the soldiers from that unit,” Ramage said.
For Ramage, telling their stories is what it’s all about. “It’s part of our national history, and we need to cover what it is that the soldiers do on our behalf,” he said. “Obviously they volunteer, but they get sent out to these countries to try to make a difference. I believe that we should be telling their stories as part of our military history so that you can go into our Memorial and generations of younger and future Australians can look back and see what it was that these guys did in Afghanistan. It’s very humbling … [and] it’s a huge privilege for me.”
The veteran photographer remains positive in the face of horrors witnessed:
“If I get a bit sad or whatever, I go and do something, and I keep myself occupied. I have a lot of different hobbies, and that keeps me going without turning to the bottle or drugs or whatever to try and suppress the bad memories and the bad thoughts or whatever… But everybody’s different.
“I don’t dwell on it, because if you dwell on it, it will just eat you up from the inside out. You’ve got to live, so I just put it down to one of life’s experiences and move on to the next chapter. If you let it get on top of you, it will just eat you up.”
More of the blog on Gary Ramage can be found here.
As we each seek to serve the cause of peace in our own place we also know that every person counts.
For a taste of poetry as we depart, an extract from:
The people don’t mention it much.
It goes without saying,
it stays without saying—
that concentration camp
on their reservation.
And they avoid that massive site
as they avoid contamination—
that massive void
punctuated by crusted nails,
punctured pipes, crumbled
failings of foundations . . .
What else is there to say?
This was a lush land once,
graced by a gifted people
gifted with the wisdom
of rivers, seasons, irrigation.
Source: Poetry Foundation. Acknowledgments and full text in link.
Thank you to Belinda Witzenhausen and Damyanti Biswas who called us all together for this Blogfest. It has been over a year and still we are here!
Want to join the WATWB Blogfest? Check out some details here.