Watene-Zelezniak family combines league and war service
There are many things to love about Anzac Day. From dawn services, to defence force marches, playing two-up and watching some footy, Australia does the day well.
Around this time of the year amazing stories are shared from our country's proud history, with everyone learning about the brave men and women who fought for Australia's freedom.
Rugby league fans not only commemorate Anzac Day on April 25, they also have the chance to reflect on the past over the course of the full round.
At every NRL game in Round 8, fans will stop for a moment, remembering those who sacrificed much for the country.
This week for Big League, Penrith winger Dallin Watene-Zelezniak shared his story about his family legacy.
On the 'Watene' side of his family, he had a great-grandfather who played rugby league for the Kiwis in the 1930s. On the 'Zelezniak' side was a grandfather who served in World War II.
Long story short, his grandfather grew up in Poland and fought for the Polish during the War. He was captured and sent to a concentration camp where he saw some horrific things.
Miraculously, he managed to escape and was able to flee to England. You can read the full story in this week's mag.
Martin Gabor also had the chance to share the stories of Jillaroos Talesha Quinn and Meg Ward, who are both serving our country in the defence force.
Quinn spent four years with the Australian Army in Townsville and now juggles both footy and her Army service.
Ward also does both after being posted in Wagga Wagga, Brisbane and Katherine. She can't wait to represent the Australian Defence Force team at the Women's National Championship in June.
Hearing and helping others to share their stories, I was encouraged to dive into my family history. I always knew I had family members who served, but did not know the finer details.
This week I had a good chat with my 91-year-old Gran, Beryl Blok, who reads this column every week (Hi Gran!).
She told me about how her father, Private James Kingsley Gorrell, served our country during the World War I.
He was in the 1st Australian Light Horse Field and spent time in Egypt and Palestine. Every soldier was in charge of looking after their individual horse, and my great-grandfather's horse was named 'Peanut'.
My great uncle, Leading Aircraftman David Issac Blok, also served our country. During World War II, he was based in New Guinea and sadly passed away on January 23, 1944.
Knowing my ancestors served during both World Wars makes me extremely proud of my family's legacy. Each time I hear our anthem or last post this weekend, I'll be thinking about Uncle David and my great-grandfather.
Then, once the tears on my face have dried, I'll enjoy some fantastic rugby league. This week we're lucky to have games from Wednesday to Sunday. Bring it on.