THE recent Olympic Games once again reminds us of the pride we all share, when we see our national flag flying high acknowledging the achievements of our athletes.

Our flag is a symbol of the nationhood that has carried our country during good times and tough times, through peace and war, and under which we have strived for democratic freedoms, democracy and celebrated the shared values of our citizenship.

I would like to thank the Australian National Flag National Flag Association (ANFA) for all they have done to remind the Australian community, that our country has two flags. In 1901 two flags were born: The blue Australian National Flag and the Australian Red Ensign, the official flag to be flown at sea by Australian registered merchant ships.

The vision statement of our organisation is:

To ensure that the Australian Merchant Navy “A title emblazoned in battle and honoured in freedom” is recognised as an important part of Australian maritime history and social culture.

It is said that during the Second World War, the rate of merchant sailors who died was higher than Australia’s fighting services. What it must have taken them to pack their bags, kiss their family members goodbye, dig deep and board those ships is unimaginable to most of us. And the desperate fear they must have felt when a torpedo struck their ship in the middle of the night, as was so often the case. None of them wore a uniform, yet their courage equalled that of our uniformed sailors, soldiers and airmen and women.

The capacity for endurance of the common man facing uncommon danger is a lesson that every generation needs to understand together with appreciation for all those who fought for the freedom we enjoy today.

David Field
Chairman, Merchant Navy War Memorial Fund