Thursday 24 February is officially War Animal Day. A day to remember and recognise all the millions of animals that sacrificed their lives, along with millions of humans, during times of war.
We often forget that many, many animals died alongside all the people. It is something that, until recent times, was not known of, acknowledged, or remembered.
In 2013 the concept of the purple poppy was introduced to Australia, which is a symbol now used around the world to recognise the sacrifice of all war and service animals.
Animals deserve recognition for their myriad of roles: as beasts of burden, as messengers, protectors, mascots, as well as mates to all those they served with. Many of them also displayed great valour, courage and bravery, as did their human partners. They did not choose to volunteer though.
It is estimated that more than 8 MILLION animals died in WW1 alone: 400,000 horses left our Australian shore - only one was allowed to return home.
20,000 dogs, 200,000 pigeons, camels, mules, donkeys and even insects all played their part in battle.
Dogs were a part of the Korean war, in Vietnam, and in the Middle East, though until 1993 most were never allowed to return home due to quarantine laws. They were drafted into service, stood side by side with their humans, and had to be left behind when the battle was done. Heartbreaking for those that served with them, and a great disrespect for all their efforts.
Maybe we can make up for this disservice by now including them in our thoughts and our thanks. By all of us acknowledging them for the incredible bond they shared, and for the sacrifices they made alongside those they served with, we can now restore some of the respect they are due.
Thanks to AWAMO, the 24 February is now National War Animal Day in Australia and NZ. Their own special day when we can recognise all those creatures that gave their lives in service to mankind.
There are plaques to recognize the contribution of war animals on the memorial rock up on ANZAC Hill. Please take a moment on the 24 February to remember them in some way.