It’s here again. ANZAC Day. A day of major significance in Australia when we remember bravery, courage and the ongoing pain of war.
I do hope that this ANZAC Day we’ll honour those who have gone to war in the name of our country but also let the day remind us that war has no winners. Even those who make it home from war return as different people. The scars of war are not only physical.
As our world once again finds itself on the edge of escalating conflict we need to remember the lessons of past wars and commit to doing everything possible before taking up arms against others. The wars and conflicts that are continuing around the globe right now tell us clearly that violence is not the answer.
ANZAC Day, the 25th of April, has been described as Australia’s most important national occasion, a day of real significance for many Australians.
It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. While the date is aligned with that event in the First World War, the day is a remembrance of all those who have been to war to protect our freedom.
ANZAC Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day we remember all Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. The spirit of ANZAC, with its human qualities of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity. On ANZAC day, ceremonies are held in towns and cities across the nation to acknowledge the service of our veterans.
I’ve watched television coverage of ANZAC ceremonies many times. After all these years, the support for these commemorations continues to grow as the stories of heroism are remembered. As I watch I see the pain of ex-soldiers as they remember their experiences during the dawn services as well as their joy of being remembered as they travel the route of the marches along city streets.
Together with my wife and my son, I’ve volunteered to help at a couple of ANZAC Marches through Perth. It’s sobering to look into the faces of those who have risked so much for our freedom. It’s so sad to think that they had to go to war in the first place. Their lives and the lives of those connected to them will be marked by war forever.
Seeing the memories of war in the faces of those marching year by year isn’t the only place I’ve experienced its effects.
My parents served in the Royal Australian Air Force during the Second World War. (You can click on any of the photos for a closer look. As well as the individual photos of my parents, the top picture shows my dad on the far right with his father and two of his brothers.)
I’m sure that my father especially would have been a very different man had it not been for his experiences in war. Though he never liked to talk about those experiences I know that they coloured the rest of his life and in turn the life of our family. He was a good and caring man but I know that war changed him.
I’ve only seen a shadow of a glimpse of war but that’s enough for me to know that it’s a horrid experience where no one really wins.
War is a terrible thing, and I’m glad that I’ve never had to fight, but I am grateful for the courage and sacrifice of those who fought for our country. I shudder when I imagine what it would be like to face a hostile enemy, knowing that any moment could be my last.
I would hate to have to go to war. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to say goodbye to my loved ones, not knowing if I’d ever see them again.
Having children of my own, I don’t even want to think about the parents that have seen their children go to war. My hope is that we will continue to work towards finding better, peaceful ways to overcome conflict. War should never be the answer.
ANZAC Day isn’t about glorifying war, it’s about paying our respects to those who put their lives on the line for their countrymen and the generations to come.
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