ANZAC Day in Australia is April 25th. It’s a day where we come together to remember all service people.
A Bit of History
ANZAC is an acronym for Australia New Zealand Army Corps. During the Great War these two countries came together to assist the British Empire. These troops were affectionately known as, “Diggers’ and ‘Kiwis’ (Australians and New Zealanders). A strong bond was built between the two nations which still stands strong today.
Remembering our Fallen
Our Governor-General, Sir William Deane commented on ANZAC Day 1999 by saying:
“ANZAC is not merely about loss. It is about courage, and endurance, and duty, and love of country, and mateship, and good humour and the survival of a sense of self-worth, and decency in the face of dreadful odds”
It’s all this and more. I asked my favourite ex serviceperson for a paragraph on the history of ANZAC Day and he returned these profound thoughts.
Some Profound Thoughts
We observe a national day of remembrance on the 25th April. This day has been identified as a galvanising moment of the young federated Australian nation.
People from all callings and levels of Australian society were to become enmeshed in a clash of arms at a level this young nation could not conceive. Much has and shall continue to be written about this defining moment and for the sacrifices made, we rightly commemorate. At this time of year we pause and give thought to all those who suffered, endured, lost loved ones, their lives, their health and wellbeing through the horror of war.
The honouring of the embodiment of true spirit of Anzac has been demonstrated in all our lives. It is not about glorification. It is the softly spoken act and spirit of supporting and helping those around you, combining with others to unite in facing the onslaught of ordeals that circumstances both natural and manmade have impressed upon ourselves and our communities.
I couldn’t have expressed such deep thoughts myself. They are beautifully written with the knowledge of true comradery.
When he asked me to read what he’d written, he said, “This isn’t what you asked for but it’s what I needed to write”. I couldn’t have known what to ask for to get this response. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing these sincere words of wisdom.
Permission to gather again
For the first time in two years we will be able to come together and attend commemoration services. Over the past 2 years we’ve held it in our driveway.
The first ANZAC Day was held in 1942 at the Australian War Memorial. During this time the government orders prevented large gatherings due to fear of Japanese air attacks. Consequently this ceremony was only a small gathering. ANZAC Day has been commemorated in some way) annually ever since. Commemorative services are held at dawn, it’s the same time of the original landings. These services are held in war memorials around our nation.
Grief and ANZAC Day
On this day we remember all those who died and those who suffered both physical and hidden scars from war. We also remember their families who are feeling the grief of the loss of the person they once knew who went to war and learning to live with the person who came back or who didn’t return at all.
There is so much grief to learn to live with. Life is extremely different for the person who comes back from war and their families who’s getting used to the new person. Life has changed forever and it’s heartbreaking for all.
What you can do as a community member
I encourage you to be curious about anyone who went off to war, whether they’re a family member, friend or someone on the list at your local memorial. There are many diary entries to read on the Australian War Memorial website. They’re both interesting and heartbreaking at the same time.
If you ever get a chance to visit Canberra, definitely put the memorial on your to do list.
Something you can do:
- Choose a service person from the list at the memorial
- Google their name
- Research them and find out who they were before and during wartime
- Attend a dawn service
- While at the service think about what war means to you and think about how the person you researched would feel
- Share their story with someone you know
- You might like to attend the local RSL (Return Services League) club and talk to the diggers. I love spending the day there chatting to them and sometimes they share amazing stories that you’d think no one could survive but they did.
The Wrap Up
Grief and loss is about the heartbreaking and loving memories, sometimes happening at the same time. Memories help us process our grief by reminding us they lived and also reminding us they died. Sharing these memories helps our brain understand that they’re no longer with us and we can also remember them.
The Ode comes from For the Fallen, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon and was published in London in the Winnowing Fan; Poems of the Great War in 1914. The verse, which became the League Ode, was already used in association with commemoration services in Australia in 1921.
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
The above Ode is copied from https://www.army.gov.au/our-heritage/traditions/ode