#WATWB April – Where Every Person Counts, Anzac Edition

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.

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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 GargMichelle Wallace, Mary Giese, Dan Antion and yours truly.

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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:

Healing Gila

for The People

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.

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Author: simonfalk28

Country lad, Focussing on verse.

23 thoughts on “#WATWB April – Where Every Person Counts, Anzac Edition”

  1. I often wonder what happens to war correspondents who risk their lives so we can see through their eyes and still be safe in our homes. Kudos to Gary for going beyond the pain to a place where he can live with what he can’t unsee and still keep seeing for the rest of us.

    1. Yes, he obviously has suffered. But he still sees the dignity of each person and I like to see that. A bit like the people who inhabit Cherished and We Are The World Blogfests 😉

  2. Hi Simon – excellent to highlight Gary Ramage … and his sentence “in wars where nothing seems to matter, I can take pictures in which every person counts.” does make total sense – we all count. It’s excellent the Australian Memorial archives are using his photos … thanks for posting this – it is good to know about – Hilary

    1. Thanks Hilary. We are very proud of our War Memorial in Canberra. Especially so when people like Gary come to the fore. It does not glorify war but does highlight some of the human hope that glimmers in the horrors.

  3. “‘In wars where nothing seems to matter, I can take pictures in which every person counts” – what a powerful credo to live by! Thank you for sharing this story Simon – Gary Ramage is indeed someone worthy of our attention and appreciation for what he does. Just as he is reminding us of the very human costs of war and conflict.

  4. I’m simply going to offer my support and thanks for the service of the armed forces of Australia and New Zealand. They help to keep the majority of the world free and safer than it would be without them. I salute them!

    Thanks for this story, Simon, and for participating in #WATWB.

    1. Thanks Mary, from our hemisphere to yours. As for WATWB. It’s easier for me to stay in now than otherwise. Since the earlier Cherished blogfest days and now WATWB, I think some of these blogfests we take part in are really worth their while.

  5. Thanks Simon for this post – Gary Ramage doesn’t hide from it, he is witness to it and for this, his witness, he is to be highly commended. And to bring the horrors of war to our attention and reminding us ghat these are people.

    Thank you for co-hosting this month. Glad to hear tests are clear!

  6. Kudos to Gary for sharing his work with the world to show what soldiers do on our behalf and how their contribution must be remembered, always. Thanks for sharing this story, Simon!

  7. Simon, I’m sorry it took so long to find this post. The link I had didn’t work, and I don’t seem to be getting emails 😦

    I knew you would have a post, so I searched (I’m sorry it took me so long to think of that).

    This is a great post. Photographers and corespondents are often overlooked when considering the history where wars are fought, and yet it’s thought their brave work that we see the rest.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thanks so much for persevering, Dan. I’m not sure what is wrong with the link. I’m not surprised you enjoyed Gary the photographer, given you have a deft eye and hand for a good photo yourself. Thanks again. I truly appreciate it.

    1. Thanks Norah. Our War Memorial is a great place and people like Gary take it to another level of understanding the human struggles in the face of war horrors.

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