As the sun begins to rise each year on 25 April, tens of thousands of Australians gather at local RSLs and war memorials across the country to commemorate the legacy of the Anzacs.
It’s a tradition that began over a century ago, when the Anzac soldiers marched in London to Westminster Abbey for a service attended by the King and Queen to commemorate a year since their fateful landing at Gallipoli. It was at this service the then Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes praised our Defence Force by saying “Soldiers! Your deeds have won you a place in the Temple of Immortals!” which set the tone for our Anzac traditions to this day.
As decades have passed, many bloody battles and wars have been fought and won on foreign lands across the globe, yet the Anzac legacy has remained steadfast in our approach to protecting and representing our country. The legacy itself is hard to define, but the values of courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice are often repeated in commemorative speeches and on war memorials around the country.
The sobering reality for everyone on Anzac Day comes when we pause to remember every soldier, airman or sailor who lost their life defending Australia. It’s also a time to pause and think about those who are currently serving our country across the world.
Our war history is a story of courage. Although we may be small in size, our pride is big. Ultimately, what brings us together on Anzac Day is our patriotic values, our respect for those who sacrificed their lives for our country’s benefit, and the importance of mateship to each and every one of us.
As time passes, and Anzac Day ends for another year, we forget the horrors of war and the thoughts of “Imagine if I was there in 1915” and move on with our lives. But no matter how far we travel or how many years pass between Dawn Services, the Australian culture is defined by the Anzac spirit.
This Anzac Day, wherever you may be, when you pause to remember those heroes who braved the gunfire that fateful morning in Gallipoli, and every Australian soldier who has followed in their footsteps to defend our country, take a moment to reflect on the many different meanings of Anzac Day and how our Defence Force, through incredible sacrifice, has helped shape our country into the great place it is today.