What does it mean to you?
I don’t know what it is about ANZAC Day that gets me in the back of the throat… brings a tear to my eye! I have been to Dawn Parades all around the World, big crowds and small… for me it is the same “heart felt gratitude for people whom I never knew” .. a gratitude that is so emotionally overwhelming, the tears slip down my face every time.
We honour The Unknown Soldier. We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not know where he was born, or how and when he died. We do not know where in Australia or NZ he made his home or when he left it for the battlefields of Europe. We do not know his age or his circumstances: what occupation he left to become a soldier; what religion, if he had a religion; if he was married or single. We do not know who loved him or whom he loved or if he had children. His family is lost to us as he was lost to them. We will never know who this ANZAC was. And it doesn’t matter anyway. He represents all the soldiers and he was one of us.
He fought a mad, brutal, awful fight that ultimately (at Gallipoli anway) we lost. It was a defeat in that battle but it brought together two nations forever. It was a lesson about ordinary people, doing extra-ordinary things. They taught us to endure hardship, show courage, to bold and resilient, to believe in ourselves and to stick together. Mateship was born at Galipoli. It was the legend that gave us freedom to choose how we live our lives.
That is surely at the heart of the Anzac story, the Australian legend which emerged from the war. It is a legend not of sweeping military victories so much as triumphs against the odds, of courage and ingenuity in adversity. It is a legend of free and independent spirits whose discipline derived less from military formalities and customs than from the bonds of mateship and the demands of necessity.
It is not too much to hope, therefore, that this Unknown Australian Soldier might continue to serve his country. He might enshrine a nation’s love of peace and remind us that, in the sacrifice of the men and women whose names are recorded, there is faith enough for all of us.
Not all Australians understand the passion of ANZAC. Many think we are a bit weird to celebrate a defeat with so much passion. My 97 year old father-in-law is one and He spent 8 years fighting wars. But for me there is only
One Day Of The Year… and that’s ANZAC Day!
Thanks Mate for giving me a life of Opportunity and the Freedom to Choose how I live!