Every year, on 25 April, we remember all who have served, in various theatres and campaigns of war, and especially those who did not return. We do so not to glorify war, hence we commemorate rather than celebrate.
When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federated nation for only 13 years, and our government, at the time, was eager to establish a reputation among the nations of the world. When Britain declared war in August 1914 Australia was automatically placed on the side of the Commonwealth. On 25 April 1915 the world changed. As young Australian men and women of that generation joined the Services in large numbers, our nation experienced loss at a disproportionately larger rate than other countries.
We suffered the highest death and wounding rate per capita. The loss was devastating, however from this grew an Australian identity that has guided and, in many respects, defined our national character.
Australians have never exhibited the militarism which has marked the history of some nations. Ours has always been a reserved patriotism which is expressed as a commitment to serving the nation when there is a job that needs doing.
Why does ANZAC Day matter? We should never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice, in addition to those who have brought home the visible and non visible scars of war. Our country, asked them to do a job from which they did not shirk.
For me, as I reflect on this significantly important day, in our national calendar, the Anzac legacy characteristics that define Australia are:
- courage, and
Lest we Forget