Address at Consecration

This speech was read by the father of Greg Sher to those gathered at the Consecration of his tombstone.

“G”

Distinguished guests including Chief of the Army, Lt General Ken Gillespie, Commander of Special Forces, Major General Tim McOwen, Members of Parliament, Rabbonim, soldiers of the 1 Commando Regiment and B Company 5 / 6 RVR, representatives of The Commando Assoc VAJEX and the Army Reserve Assoc.family and friends, thank you for being with our family today to provide us with comfort and support.

On behalf of my family and Karen, I’d like to thank Myer Hertzberg, Ephraim Finch and the Board of The Chevra Kadish for once again allowing the tree planting ceremony to take place at Lyndhurst. The generation of life by planting trees where people are laid to eternal rest is a fitting tribute to the memory of our son Gregory. He loved and enjoyed life and in particular being outdoors with nature.

We would also like to express our sincere appreciation to Joe Krycer of the Jewish National Fund for arranging and coordinating today’s proceedings, including sourcing the trees that have been planted. I know how stretched with work you are Joe, and I am aware of your personal commitments,  so we are honoured that you have once again expended so much time and effort for us.  The Jewish National Fund or JNF is an environmental organisation whose purpose is devoted to tree planting and forest generation, as well as water conservation.      

Rabbis Genende, Heilbrunn and Link, thank you for your participation and contribution to this ceremony. Gregory knew the three of you for many, many years and would be grateful for your presence here today.

Importantly our sincere gratitude for the presence and comfort of the soldiers of 1 Commando Regiment, and Bravo Company 5/6 Royal Victorian Regiment. It is fitting that the consecration should be attended by these fine soldiers. 

I say fine soldiers, because Gregory was also one of them, and I have learnt from Gregory that a soldier is not proven only in combat, but also in life. A soldier lives by a code or drill, not because it is honourable, but because that is how a soldier is trained, and so that is how he thinks and lives. The rigidity of military discipline reflects his mindset and they supplement each other, the man strengthened by the military and the military strengthened by the man.

We learnt from Gregory that a soldier’s code in peacetime is the same as in time of war: Do your duty, protect the weak, protect the community, face the bully, stand tall, stay aware, think ahead, be ready, be loyal, and avoid aggression if possible. If not possible to avoid aggression, then confront it in a way that your conscience would consider reasonable and beat the opponent decisively.

Respect and honour are earned by what we do, and are not granted at birth. Despite the numerous military codes or drills that prevail, they all seem to say the same thing at heart: Live with honour, and let not your death be associated with persons of disgrace, cruelty, weakness and fear.

My son’s associates and friends were also his fellow soldiers of B Company, 5/6 Royal Victorian Regiment and 1 Commando Regiment, men and women of honour, compassion, strength and courage. On behalf of our family and Karen, I thank them for everything they have done for Gregory, not only after his death, but also during his life.

Gregory, G as I called him, was just 30 when he fell. He was a wonderful son who loved and cherished his family and Karen, a true, loyal, and selfless friend to all those he met at school, community groups, and the army. From his childhood days, he always wanted to be a soldier, and he certainly achieved his goals and became a professional in his field. He commenced his paratrooper training at age 6 or 7, by jumping off a jungle gym with his arms through the handles of a white Coles shopping bag which was on his back .That is why he always achieved such perfect landings. He not only trained to attain physical strength by bodybuilding, running, swimming and doing other aerobic exercises, and also by doing crazy exercises like flipping a huge truck tire up and down our large garden, but his bookshelf is lined with publications on mental development, including psychology, survival and soldiering.

G was a man who lived according to the values of his Jewish faith and to the Australian way, always ready to help others. G could talk to many people about so many subjects! But most importantly, he was renowned for listening to what other people had to say about themselves, rather than talking about himself. G was really a great guy. I can’t think of a time that I spoke to him that he didn’t have a smile on his face, good times and bad. He was not at all materialistic, and to be without some of the things he wanted was an indispensable part of his happiness. Whenever I had the honour of bumping into him when he came home, from a camp or military exercise, I was always met with that distinctive smile and a big hug.

G had the HONOUR of serving his people and his country, as did all the other soldiers who have been killed in action on our behalf over the past 7years. The pain that our family feels, also stems from our deep attachment to Australia and its people. Every Australian soldier killed, is a dagger in our hearts, but it is a heart connected to a precious body.

In conclusion, our Rabbi’s have noted “Each time a soldier breathes his last, each time a hero is slain in the noble war against terror, a little bit of each of us dies with him.”

The same can be said for Gregory Michael Sher, our beloved son. He died a hero’s death, defending his people, his country and his faith. And along with him, a little bit of each of his family died too. May his memory be forever cherished and blessed.

Finally, throughout his life, Gregory served various communities. To further honour his memory, trees have been planted on the ANZAC Trail in Israel. Australia played a pivotal role in liberating the Holy Land from the Ottoman Empire in 1917. The ANZAC Trail recognizes sites where the Australian Infantry bivouacked their way to Jerusalem. Gregory’s name will also be inscribed on an obelisk at the dedicated area. Furthermore, as a loyal Australian, and in particular being a Victorian, Gregory would have welcomed contributing to reforestation of the areas destroyed by bushfires.  Therefore, half the proceeds of this appeal will go to planting trees in the Holy Land, and the other half will go to Victorian bushfire relief.

On behalf of my family, including Karen I thank you all once again for your time and for the effort made to be here with us, for honouring Gregory’s memory, and for your continuing compassion, comfort and support following our devastating loss.

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