Tag Archives for " Gratitude "

ANZAC Day 2014

landscape with poppy flowersToday, Friday 25th April is ANZAC Day.

Anzac Day is a national public holiday in Australia and New Zealand, and is commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I and also to commemorate the soldiers who fought in France and Belgium. Anzac Day is also observed in the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa and Tonga.

Anzac Day is a day on which people also remember the efforts and sacrifices of those involved in all conflicts. Personally, among other people, I respect and honor the contribution of a man I knew: my late father-in-law Joseph Aksionov, a naturalised Australian of Russian/Yugoslav (Croatian) origin who emigrated here in the 1950’s.

During World War II, Joseph, who is a Russian national, was living in Yugoslavia. As a teenager (age 14) he joined the Yugoslav Partisans and fought on the side of the Allies against the Germans, their allies and collaborators. Joseph spent time living undercover in the forests, hiding from the Germans, and in 1988 he went back into the forests with family members, including my wife, to see the underground bunkers in which he (Joseph) and other Partisans lived and operated from. Joseph didn’t speak much about the war, however I do recall being told about how the partisans used donkeys to help them move supplies and that there was an ever-present risk that the donkeys would make a noise at the wrong time, leading to the discovery of Partisan activity by the Germans.

The first picture shows a group of Partisans and Joseph is second from the right is at the bottom. He was around 14 years of age in this photograph.

World War Two Yugoslavian Partisans

The second picture is of Joseph at the end of the war aged 17. If you look carefully you can see that he is holding a submachine gun. Someone I know, who is a former Australian Military Intelligence officer, thinks that this gun is most likely a British Sten gun. During the Second World War I believe that the British did manage to supply Partisans in Joseph’s area with some weapons and equipment.

World War Two Yugoslav Partisan with Submachine Gun

Joseph Aksionov – World War Two Yugoslav (Russian) Partisan with Submachine Gun – Age 17, 1945

Unit insignia of 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian)

Unit insignia of 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian)

The Yugoslav Partisans achieved significant victories against the Germans. If captured, Partisans were treated very harshly. Partisans were hunted by a variety of German units including: 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar (1st Croatian).

The Waffen SS were an especially nasty bunch. More on the SS here.

Here is more information on the role of the SS Handschar division in Yugoslavia’s Holocaust.

During the war Joseph’s future wife Julijana and her mother Irma, along with some other family members, very nearly got executed by German patrol, who fortunately did not realize that they were a partisan family on the move. Julijana, my late mother-in-law was not only a partisan, she was a wonderful lady and left a lasting and positive impact on my wife.

Today it is very easy to forget the great sacrifices and contributions made by so many.

As in Joseph’s case, some were teenage children.

Many ‘do gooders’, peaceniks and others of a similar disposition refuse to acknowledge that at times it is necessary to use force to overcome evil.

Love protects the vulnerable and as such, the out-working of love can include the use of violence.

Another person I remember is my late step father Colonel Terry Palmer. During his military career with the British Army spanning 31 years (1948-1979), he rose from rank of private to full Colonel (Staff officer). During the Colonel’s military career, among other things, he was a member of  28 Commonwealth Brigade, and 3 Commando Brigade – Royal Marines (RM), a Lieutenant Colonel in the Parachute Regiment (OC Paratroop Battalion), and also officer commanding (OC) a Special Forces / Military Intelligence (Reconnaissance) unit.

Colonel Terry Palmer 1987

Colonel Terry Palmer 1987

For many years, having retired from active military duty, Colonel Palmer organised the British Forces annual Airborne Forces Dinner (for officers) and counted Generals as friends. Interestingly, after retiring from the British Army, Colonel Palmer practiced Shamanism and had a public practice as a Healer in the south-west of England.  Clearly a significantly talented man with a no-nonsense approach to life; he was a good example of how Shamanism is not simply for ‘softies’ and ‘New Age airheads’; rather, it is a valid and useful aspect to successful living. In fact, many special operations forces (SOF) soldiers use Shamanic techniques to survive – most do not realise they are aspects of Shamanism, though some do.

Colonel Terry Palmer - 1988 - Fleet Air Arm Museum UK

Colonel Terry Palmer – 1988 – Fleet Air Arm Museum UK

The aircraft Terry is examining is a Japanese Kamikaze from World War Two. (Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum: Naval Aviation Museum).

Colonel Palmer – described by a former Special Forces Warrant Officer 2 (WO2) he served with as a “Great man” – was an unsung, secret hero. An extremely brave man, Colonel Palmer achieved things concerning Special Forces and Military Intelligence I have not mentioned. By rights, he should be a ‘legend’, however his remarkable achievements are only known to a few, mostly military folk. The proverbial ‘grey man‘, Colonel Palmer’s story will probably never be told and instead, like many other Special Forces and Intelligence operators, he will recede into the mists of history and be largely forgotten.

I am grateful for the servicemen and women who defend us. Are you?

For The Fallen – Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Do You Worry About Australian Government Surveillance?

Internet security concept the words big brother is watching on a digital tablet screen with a magnifying glassDoes Australian Government surveillance bother you?

Should it?

Today, the Sydney Morning Herald writes:

Federal government departments are using increasingly powerful cyber-snooping equipment to monitor the social media lives of millions of Australians.

I am not going to comment on specific issues mentioned in the article. Instead, I will discuss broader issues.

My first, and somewhat cheeky reaction, was ‘Wave!’ Arms shake vigorously.

Some might surmise that I am not concerned because my response is levity. They would be right.

So, why is that?

Before I answer, let me cover some background points.

  • I am a strong lover of personal and societal freedom. Speech, religious affiliation, political affiliation, right to bear arms and more. You get the idea.
  • Usually, I consider the ‘big picture’ before looking at the minutiae.
  • Just because someone is anti government surveillance does not necessarily infer that they are bad, criminal or have other negative character traits.

Back to the why…

  1. Government surveillance can help to ‘manage’ threats to community well-being. Do you have the time, or the resources, to keep watch on people who might want to do you harm – like leave bombs on buses, or attack shopping centres? Someone has to do it…because if someone doesn’t…somebody else is coming to ‘do it’ to you. Guaranteed. Humans can be so ‘nice’ rotten. By the way; people using the term ‘animal’ to describe someone nasty does not make sense.
  2. We never hear about the majority of government surveillance successes in curtailing the activity of bad people. We never get to experience most of such people’s rotten plans either.
  3. Specific incidents can be exceptions to general rule. There are ‘bad eggs’ in government, the same as in all walks of life.
  4. One of the ‘costs’ of living in a relatively peaceful society includes some state surveillance. Be grateful you can largely live in peace. And by the way, a lot of that is due to our often much maligned Police, who in reality do a terrific job of looking after us. Gratitude.
  5. For a ‘Surveillance State’ to become a serious problem, other more serious warning signs would appear first. In our society, significant ‘roadblocks’ would get in the way – these are beyond the scope of this article.
  6. Governments can be bad, or turn bad. Remember – the Warsaw Pact/Soviet Bloc during the Cold War conducted massive surveillance. They all toppled in the end. We are thankfully nowhere near that stage.
  7. My peace of mind is not of this world. This is not a ‘religious’ or even in one sense a ‘spiritual’ thing; it is part of the deep fabric of my life today. Yes, it has a spiritual aspect however I am ‘pickled’ in it – it is not something spiritual I do a few times a week. Or at Christmas or Easter.
  8. Why are you concerned about surveillance? Do you have something to hide? Are you arrogant perhaps, with an over estimation of your own importance, ‘rights’ etc? Or maybe you suffer from some kind of anxiety or paranoia (I can help with those)? If you have a genuine concern, then you have avenues for redress in our society – thankfully.
  9. Edward Snowden is a traitor. To some, he is a ‘champion’ exposing the big bad government ‘endangering us all’. In truth though, the biggest danger currently is not the government/surveillance state – it’s the lone wolf with a highly contagious biological agent that’s airborne. What Snowden did has severely compromised governmental ability to find and stop guys like that before they get to give you a sniff. Thanks Ed.

Anyway, if you are a government snoop reading this…be good! And keep up the good work. Oh yeah…and thanks very much – the air is lovely and clean round here. If you need any information about people in my region, you know who to call.

My Beautiful Cat Nimue, And What She Taught About Death

singapura cat

Nimue – 6 Dec 2001 – 30 August 2010 | Forever loved

On Tuesday 24th August 2010, Nimue, a Singapura cat, was having a routine veterinary procedure under anaesthetic at Gold Coast Vet Surgery. Unfortunately, while coming round, she had a cardiac and respiratory arrest and died for 4 minutes. The vet and his team got her back, which in itself was a miracle. The vet said she was a ‘fighter’. For now, she had beaten death.

We are grateful for the wonderful veterinary staff at the Animal Emergency Service emergency care facility where Nimue was taken later in the day. There was some hope that Nimue would recover her faculties and health. Sadly, she did not, despite initial dramatic and positive progress.

Nimue was put to sleep at our home on Monday 30th August 2010, at approximately 20.10 hours Australian EST.

We miss Nimue greatly of course, and her last week was terrible. Now she is gone.

Nimue is actually in a very special and happy place now. And the manner of her passing was special too.

Hopefully this account will help some of you, the readers, to come to better terms with death, however it might be affecting your life. I am also available to help you personally if required.

Immediately before Nimue was put to sleep, I cradled her head in my palm for around 20 minutes. Nimue was lying on our bed with her head towards the edge at the side. We did not plan it that way – she had crawled there after earlier resting with her head on my pillow on the other side of the bed (she had gone there of her own accord anyway – in keeping with what she did when she was well; she loved where I had been). In the final minutes, as we kneeled by the side of the bed – with the vet on my right, my wife on my left and Anoushka my stepdaughter behind us, I conducted a Shamanic ritual (simple one) for Nimue to help her pass into the next world.

Before Nimue was injected with the lethal dose (a drip catheter was already in her leg due to previous hospital treatment) a deep peace descended on the room during the ritual…

Once we were in that state of peace and had been there a little while, I gave the OK for the vet to administer the drug (needle was already waiting in the injector thing).

Before Nimue died (was injected), in the last moments she became calm and serene – everyone felt the peace – the vet, my wife, Anoushka, me and of course Nimue. The feeling of peace was so thick it felt as if it could be cut with a knife.

This was particularly important for Nimue, but also for us because we will never forget it – it is burned into our deep psyche – we know what we felt and saw. This helped us heal because were the ones left behind, hurting. Nimue is not hurting now.

We were very privileged to experience Spirit coming for Nimue like that. We will all always remember the deep sense of peace that arose in the room before she passed. I am extremely grateful.

Afterward, my wife told me (I had my eyes closed most of the time while assisting Nimue’s passing) that Nimue’s face before she passed (was injected), became very serene – at the time of the sense of peace in the room. So much so, that my wife thought the vet had already injected her and put her to sleep, despite the arrangement for me to give the go ahead.

I will always miss Nimue, and though I failed her healing wise (we were winning until sometime between the early hours of the morning on Friday 27th August and Saturday 28th – the treating vets had talked of the highly likely happy possibility of her returning home that weekend), I am grateful to have helped her pass, and grateful to Spirit. I also failed her because I had an intuition about not taking her to have her teeth done, yet instead listened to logic.

Nimue was a very special and unusual cat – she was psychic, had a ‘massive mind’, huge personality and was the most agile cat I have ever seen. I will always love her.

Whilst I felt terrible pain during this momentous battle, I never lost my joy – but that is because my joy is not of this world.

Deep joy and deep love come from Spirit…..which is where Nimue is now.

We were told by the vet that we would experience about 3 months of severe grief. When he said it, I knew we wouldn’t but didn’t argue the point. You see, because we had felt the peace so strongly we KNEW where she had gone and what it was like. We missed her, though we never felt severe grief – we were incapable of doing so because the peace we felt at the time of her passing was so real and deep. So real that it was one of the most beautiful feelings I have ever felt in my life.

People often try to comfort themselves, and others, on the death of a person or animal they love with things like: “He or she is at peace now….has gone to heaven, or similar”. Whilst intentions are commendable, there is usually no genuine knowing; and they don’t believe it deep down. How much better it is to know.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave bereft
I am not there. I have not left.

Poem written in 1932 by Mary Elizabeth Frye

Here is a small picture gallery of Nimue. Click on any image to enlarge and launch.

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