By Nathaniel Marsh.
“He was still seventeen when they gave him a gun, and sent him off to the war. Didn’t understand what was really going on, or the reasons that he’d be fighting for.”
So starts the poignant yet beautiful song “Unknown Hero” by Steve Grace, an award-winning Country Gospel artist with over twenty albums and a million miles of concert tours behind him, and long-time friend of the Marsh family. Released on his One Night in a Million live album back in 1990, “Unknown Hero” stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it as a boy. I still get a lump in my throat every time I listen to it these days. In 2020, Steve filmed a fireside acoustic version which is on this FaceBook here (it is the best version available. Otherwise, watch it in the video below.)
“Said goodbye to his family, farewell to his friends, and a life in that little midwest town. He didn’t know if he’d be coming back again, to the war with his mates he was bound.”
“He was fighting for Australia, for the future and the freedom of this land. And at Gallipoli, he died for you and me, the unknown hero, the young soldier man.”
Steve’s song tells the devastating story for many of the 8,700 courageous Australians who lost their lives at Gallipoli during the terrible, disastrous, 8 month campaign. One young man, Australia’s youngest known ANZAC James Martin, was just fourteen years old! The Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs sums it up this way: “The most successful operation of the campaign was the evacuation which ended on 19–20 December 1915, conducted under a well-planned deception operation.”
I often think of those young, courageous Australian men.
During a speech given in 2019 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Queen Elizabeth II was not exaggerating when she described the wartime generations – her generation – as ‘resilient.’ I like to think of the Queen’s generation as the greatest generation. While my hope is that we never see another world war, I pray that my generation and our children will be encouraged and inspired by The ANZAC legend.
They say the ANZACs fought for ‘God, King and Country’, and no doubt many did, but Steve Grace nails the key to their incredible valour when he sings in the bridge, ‘What greater love can you ask of any man, than to lay down his life for his friends.’ The first version of these words were spoken by the greatest man to ever walk the face of the earth, Jesus Christ, around 2,000 years ago, who ultimately gave up His life to save humanity.
The ANZACs legend, thankfully, lives on. Tens of thousands of Australians honoured the country’s fallen servicemen and women this past week. Let us never forget the sacrifice of those who have gone before us. May we as dads rise to the challenge and live our lives in service to our friends and family.
Take a minute to offer a thought or prayer for Australia’s brave service men and women. If able, take your kids to visit a war museum or memorial, and if you’re up for the challenge, follow the example of our ANZACs and live every minute of every day as an offering and service to your family and friends.
Lest we forget.
Yours for the Unknown Heroes,
Originally published at Dads4Kids.