Friday, April 25, 2014

Anzac Day

Though born from the doomed campaign at Gallipoli, the Spirit of Anzac is not really about loss at all. It is about courage and endurance, duty, love of country, mateship, good humour and a sense of self worth and decency in the face of dreadful odds. (quote of former Governor-General of Australia, Sir William Deane, at the Australian War Memorial's Gallipoli exhibit)

April 25 marks the anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces (the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps - ANZAC) in the First World War.

(published by Angus and Robertson, 2008)

The Australian War Memorial's website says that "although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “Anzac legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future."

(published by Fremantle Press, 2013)

Since the 1920s, Anzac Day is an occasion of remembrance of Australians and New Zealanders killed in service of their countries. There are dawn services, football matches and games of Two-up while many people simply remember their family and friends, both those who came back from war and those who did not.

As a child, my brothers and I would watch the Anzac Day march on television, always lead by Adelaide's Gallipoli veterans - so few even then, now all gone - hoping to catch a glimpse of our Auntie Millie who had served in Burma during the Second World War. She always looked serious, it was clear that the occasion meant a lot to her, and we loved seeing that occasional brief shot of our uniformed Auntie Millie wearing her medals proudly.

To close, here is another reflection on Anzac Day, one of my favourite guest posts on Reading for Australia, Boy Soldier by David Mussared.

(published by Fremantle Press, 2010)

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