On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month each year, Australia pauses for Remembrance Day. It signifies the moment the guns fell silent on the Western Front in 1918, ending what we now know as World War I. On this day 94 years later I was honoured to be invited to a remembrance get together held for a similar reason. The parents of my mate Bryce, who lost his life (see My First Post) serving Australia the year prior, had brought together close family, colleagues and friends to a private function to celebrate his life. During the mingling of current and ex-military personnel at this private function, Bryce’s mum came up to me and said, “Tim, there’s someone I want you to meet.” As we walked through the people sharing stories and laughs of good times had, I instantly recognised who I was to meet.
We all know (or have met) bosses, managers, politicians; generally speaking, people in higher levels of power. Sometimes people are in these positions when they probably shouldn’t be. Whether it is for selfish desire, an inability to lead, or even a dictatorial management style, most people are able to recognise ineptness in someone with a position of power. It’s for at least one of these reasons, even though people know they’re in a position of power, that people have no respect for them. On the other hand, you may well recognise at least one person you’ve come across in life that has your respect because you have faith and trust in them and know they will do the right thing for the great or good. One of the people that I respect is someone who has lead in tough times, stood up for what is right, and not let the agenda’s of selfish others sway his decisions.
“Tim, I’d like to introduce you to Angus Houston.” I knew exactly who he was. Towering at well over six-foot, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston was the Chief of the Australian Defence Force. After starting his career as a qualified military pilot, he progressed to the highest office you could hold in the Australian military before retiring the year prior. I could tell from the stares he received and the comments made by both current and ex-serving military members around me that they had the utmost respect for him, not because of his position, but because of their experience with him and knowing what he stood for. Having only ever seen Air Chief Marshall Houston on the news, my respect for him was confirmed before he even spoke. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir” I said, in awe of the stature he held. “No need to call me sir, Tim.”
We went on to discuss flying and how I was determined to become a pilot in the military but was being held back by the decisions of the appeal authority. Thinking nothing of how this situation could eventuate, I couldn’t help but smile when he said, “Well, why don’t you send me the details of your appeal and I can look into it.” I couldn’t believe it. As I caught a glimpse of the smile on Bryce’s mums face, I was checking in my head that what I just heard was what was actually said. I expected nothing but an interesting conversation with Angus, but I left with an opportunity to get closer to my dream. Had Bryce been there, I’m sure he would’ve swung me a few high fives prior to getting another beer.