When I was at university back in the ’80s it became de rigueur to mock celebratory days like Anzac Day.
People spoke in slogans to voice their disdain –
Don’t glorify war
War Is Not Pro-Life
War is futile
To me all the naysayers seemed to be missing the point. Anzac Day and days like it are not a publicity opportunity for the war machine, they are all about the remembering. They are all about honouring the ordinary people just like you and me who were placed in extraordinary situations. Situations which were frightening, challenging; situations that were all to do with living and dying.
What must it have been like to be 18 years old and landing in a foreign country, sick of the endless days of being in the trenches, devastated to see your brothers falling at your feet? I cannot imagine the fear and despair.
Yet despite the bloodiness of campaigns like Gallipoli, in spite of the huge numbers of lives lost on both sides; people still speak of the camaraderie that existed between Australian and New Zealand troops, of the brotherhood that was borne on that day. People still speak of the never-giving-up, of the courage.
That’s why we recognise this day.
That’s why we march.
That’s why we remember.
I would like to say to the ANZACS today – THANK YOU.
I won’t ever forget you.