ANZAC Day, the 25th of April, has been described as Australia’s most important national occasion. While many public holidays are just about getting an extra day off, ANZAC Day has 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.
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’ve watched television coverage of many ANZAC ceremonies over many years. After all these years the support for these commemorations continues to grow as the stories of heroism are remembered. As I look at the faces of those who served our country I see the pain as they remember their service during the dawn services as well as the joy of being remembered as they travel the route of the marches along city streets.
When they see the faces in the crowds and hear the cheering as they pass, they know that this country is grateful for their sacrifice and the sacrifice of those who didn’t make it home.
This year will be a little bit different. It’s the one hundredth anniversary of the Gallipoli landing and together with my wife and my son, we’ll be volunteering to help at today’s ANZAC March through Perth. It’ll just be a small way for us to say thank you to those who have risked it all on behalf of others. I don’t know what well be doing but whatever it is, is won’t even begin to show our gratitude for those who have given their lives.
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 kids 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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