Stories of war heroes when described have the usual sad, sensational style that is threaded into the lines of text. The reader’s heartstrings are tugged and pulled, and the story describes the accomplishments of the hero. Very few people who don’t have any familial links with the military take an interest in reading the stories of war or war heroes; unless they are part of a school curriculum. The real story of the first Australian Indigenous war hero is different though.
Reg Saunders might be the first indigenous hero in Australia, but he is also the first to have a story recited in a graphic novel format. Just looking at the pictures and the style of the story encourages even young readers to take an interest in reading and following the adventure and life behind Reg. Imagine a well scripted comic book with scores of action, adventure, some biography, and history weaved into it. The story of Reg Saunders is in the exact format that anyone would want to pick up and read.
The Story of Reg Saunders as Told By The War Memorial
Both the trooper’s father as well as uncle served in the first world war. Reg was, therefore, driven from within to be a part of history with his efforts to join the army. During the second world war, Reg enlisted and started continuing the dream of his father and uncle. More specifically, his battalion was commissioned during the Korean War. Within a short period, the enlisted boy started climbing the ranks with his exceptional skills as a warrior and a leader. He was made an army officer within a short span as well.
During the 1940s, racism was still a very active part of society. Saunders and other Indigenous soldiers experienced it from time to time. However, Reg rarely gave the perpetrators the benefit of the doubt to make him feel inferior. He dealt with it correctly, and that’s another reason why he was promoted in the ranks quickly; because of his incredible communication and leadership skills. Now in a war setting, shaking hands or politely dissolving a problem was never a choice. When it came to military and dealing with army officers, the use of force in an acceptable way was the way forward. Reg grew up in a home where was groomed on how he should handle racism in the military from a very young age. He was taught that he has to be fair and bring the perpetrator to a common ground to dissolve the matter.
What better way to show other army personnel a lesson in racism other than with fighting?
Whenever Reg gave an order and was racistly back answered, he would ask them to come to a common ground of a physical fight to prove who has to listen to the other. The tactic was so effective that when there were troublesome military arrests who were being very difficult at any of the camps, Reg was called to the scene to help knock some sense into drunks and problematic arrests. After his fantastic performance at the wars and his love for serving both Country and Queen, he and his family were not respected in society after his return. Newspaper publications caught the story soon; Reg began garnering public support for his efforts which then gave him a job as a liaison officer with the Office of Aboriginal Affairs.