Following on from my previous two articles,“Listen well, my friend. Collectively, we are a voice to be heard.” and “The story of a great Australian woman.”, I would like to share with you a lovely story symbolizing the individual strength and also the collective strength of a minority group of remarkable Australian women. Our Australian war widows. This charming story is especially significant as we approach our National Day of Celebration, Australia Day - 26th January 2007.
WAR WIDOWS GUILD OF AUSTRALIA
The Badge was chosen by our first National President and founder of the Guild, Mrs Jessie Vasey, OBE, CBE.
The badge issued by the Government to widows during or just after the war was so depressing, as it had a little old bent over woman bedecked in widows’ weeds and looking so sad.
Mrs Vasey said we must have a badge typically and completely Australian. It must have no element of self-pity or sloppy sentiment and it should be one that could be worn proudly by every widow whatever her creed or ideals.
After numerous suggestions for a design from all over Australia, it was finally decided that the badge would feature the Kookaburra, an industrious and cheerful bird who mated for life, was fearless and aggressive in the defence of its young and the area of territory it regarded as its own. “He goes out after what he wants – fights for his family. Isn’t that what we’re doing?” Mrs Vasey asked her girls.
Mrs Vasey approached Mr Andor Meszaros, a distinguished Hungarian sculptor who was born in Budapest in 1900 and educated in Budapest and Vienna and was at that time living in Melbourne.
She asked him to design a badge featuring a Kookaburra and he suggested the present one, which was accepted by all the States. It depicts a Kookaburra alighting in flight onto a branch of gum leaves. It is a brave bird and will tackle anything as young widows had to do. The bird also had a unique call, not a song but a laugh; a chortle of rollicking mirth. It was a call to win the widow back to laughter.
(An extact from an information folder given to members of the Australian War Widows’ Guild when joining.)
This brings to a close my blogs about Australian war widows. Personally, I am strengthened and encouraged by the companionship and feelings of solidarity with my fellow members of the War Widows’ Guild of Australia and the example of those who have gone before us. As a person living with spasmodic dysphonia and cervical dystonia, I feel greatly encouraged by the examples set by war widows. They have taken their incredible loss and turned it into a strength reflecting great determination, worth and courage.
Like war widows - we need not be hampered by our experiences, living with dystonia in all its forms, but can be transformed into holistic beings reflecting great values of spirit and strength.
Sue Bayliss. Cairns, Far North Queensland, Australia.