Today is Australia Day, a day which will not be celebrated by demonstrations of military might. Tanks, missiles etc will not be shown off as they are in the rest of the world. There will be no messages declaring “We are the greatest, so watch out!”
Instead, friends and families will gather to enjoy a picnic and barbeque or watch the Aussie Open Tennis or the soccer. In other words, they will celebrate what is wonderful about this country of ours.
You see, Aussies don’t need to boast to make themselves feel better about living here. They know in their hearts that Australia is a fair-minded and decent country which has no delusions of grandeur.
Believe me, I should know. I have lived in the Soviet Union, in Siberia, in Poland, in a Displaced Persons’ Camp in Germany as well as several years in France.
I came here as a Displaced Person following World War II.
After the war, my family decided that they wanted to get away from Europe, the further away the better. We were told about a country at the other end of the world, where sheep wandered in the streets. It was called Australia and we knew absolutely nothing about it.
So we applied for visas to come either to Australia or South America. The visa for Australia arrived first and so we accepted it gratefully.
How lucky is that!
Life is mainly about luck and chance. I used to think that it was about hard work and perseverance, but honestly, without luck there is nothing. I know of people who have been extremely hard-working but have had bad luck through no fault of their own, so as I have grown older I have realised that life is mostly about good luck and bad luck.
And it was good luck that the visa to Australia turned up first.
Yes, it was hard to come to a country without a penny in the world, without being able to speak English, but Australia has been kind to us. If one is prepared to study and work hard then one can have a wonderful life here. And with a dose of good luck one can celebrate Australia Day with deep gratitude.
So I wish you all a very Happy Australia Day and Thank You for giving us a chance at life once more.