by grant morgan
As years go, 2013 was about as momentous as they come.
For me, it dealt two significant events. The first, represented the start of something that would prove life changing. The second, signalled the end of something very special.
In January 2013, I secured a good-looking colt by first season sire I Am Invincible. History shows he went on to become Brazen Beau. Champion colt, dual Group 1 winner. Life changer.
By April 2013, my dad was hospitalised at the age of 91. Anzac Day was approaching.
George Henry Morgan led an amazing life. He joined the army in 1938, fudging his age despite being just 15 years of age at the time.
He endured the hells of World War 2 as a Prisoner of War on the infamous Burma Railway as result of the fall of Singapore. During that time, I have no doubt he saw the very best of man, and the very worst.
In 1945 he returned to Australia no longer a boy, but a man.
Roll forward time to 1974, the year I arrived in the world.
By this stage my Dad was a mature man of 50 years of age. Dad had married my mum (his second marriage) in 1971. Together, they carved out a truly wonderful life.
As I grew up, I never really gave much consideration to my dads age. Now as a father myself, I reflect and marvel on how he handled life as a 50-year-old, with a new born child.
Dad was always very active and healthy and truly enjoyed life in Wollongong. He was a very good golfer throughout is life. He had a passion for Rugby League which he played in his younger years. He had a wide friendship circle and seemed to know everyone around town.
And of course, he loved horse racing.
I was fortunate enough to enjoy all three of those sports in various capacities during my youth. Ultimately, it would be horse racing which would leave an indelible mark on me.
I was privileged to have had a wonderful childhood and adolescence thanks to both of my parents. They both worked very hard for what they had, but I wanted for nothing. Dad sold cars for a living for various dealerships in Wollongong and Mum worked at nearby Bulli Hospital. They were working class. They made sure I had a good education, which led me to form some wonderful friendships that still exist today. I count myself very fortunate.
After retiring from the car sales trade, my dad spent much of his retirement working for the Returned Service League (RSL) and other associations devoted to ex-servicemen.
That work would even extend to reconciliation programmes with the very Japanese soldiers that were his captures. Many of his peers were against this, but Dad wanted to learn more about the Japanese.
Over a 23 year period with the RSL, Dad helped hundreds of ex-servicemen and their widows secure pensions and benefits which helped them live more comfortable lives during their penultimate years.
During that time he attended countless funerals as one by one our servicemen succumb to the tyranny of time.
For Dad, time would catch up with him in 2013.
I distinctly recall receiving a call from my father in law from Wollongong. He quietly suggested that I should come down from the Gold Coast and see my dad. Despite the stoicism being displayed by both my parents over the phone, it seemed clear that Dad wasn’t at all well. I will be forever grateful for that call.
I jumped on the plane and headed to Wollongong hospital with my Mum to visit Dad. I got to talk to him for one last time before he lapsed into unconsciousness.
The ensuing days by his side were incredibly difficult, but at the same time, so important. Like the fighter he was, Dad kept holding on. The April calendar kept ticking over. It seemed inevitable that it would get to April 25. It did.
Dad passed away peacefully on Anzac Day, 2013.
This year Anzac Day is again special and unique. Whilst of course I wasn’t able to march in his honour, his memory is ever present. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. His strength and resolve to survive such a horrible part of history is very much part of me.
Although the world is going through an incredibly challenging time at the moment, I think it is so important for us to remember how lucky we are in Australia.
I think we need to draw on the ANZAC spirit to rise above current challenges. We need to remain positive and optimistic. We are so much more fortunate than other people around the globe.
Those that complain about being confined or having their freedoms limited would do well to spend some time studying what our soldiers went through on every front of War.
#GeorgeMorgan #Anzac #2ndAIF #8thDivisionHeadquarters #Changi #BurmaRailway #NX57311