American news reporter Elmer Davis once said: “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”
Bravery is defined as the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty. It’s often a word that is overused and rarely truly acted upon. The term is often associated with those serving in the military.
Today some Australians will be acknowledged for acts of bravery. One of the awards is the Star of Courage. This is the second highest Australian Bravery Decoration. The Cross of Valour is the highest honour.
It is fitting for this honour to be given posthumously to Benjamin Aherne. The Devonport man was shot and killed when he went to the assistance of a woman who had been involved in domestic violence incident back in October, 2011.
The citation reads:
“Mr Aherne received a phone call from a friend asking him to visit her house after her ex-partner had assaulted her and she believed that he would return. Mr Aherne drove to the woman's house, and his partner arrived in her own car and remained outside.
“Shortly after Mr Aherne's arrival at the house, the woman's ex-partner returned and entered the premises carrying a rifle. The offender continued to make violent threats and, despite the danger to himself, Mr Aherne confronted the offender in the hallway of the house and attempted to diffuse the situation. After a short struggle, both men exited the house.
“Once outdoors, Mr Aherne ran towards his partner's vehicle. He banged on the windows, warning her to immediately leave the scene. The armed offender approached and fired two shots at the vehicle, seriously wounding Mr Aherne's partner.
“As Mr Aherne ran towards his own car, the offender fired his weapon at Mr Aherne, causing him to fall to the ground. The offender approached Mr Aherne and opened fire once again, fatally wounding him.
“By his actions, Mr Aherne displayed conspicuous courage.”
Mr Aherne’s family said “the circumstances and events that unfolded that day were not of [Ben’s] making”. He saved lives through the loss of his own. The actions of Mr Aherne are a true demonstration of bravery and the selflessness displayed is a trait others should aspire to demonstrate on a daily basis.