Ms Chocaholic with lots of opinions and an attitude

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anzac Day

Often my non-Australian friends have asked me what it is that I like so much about Australia..when you have spent time with the Australians you will understand there are many reasons for it, but I take the occasion of ANZAC Day to share with you one aspect of the Australian spirit. I can only hope that the memories of the casualties and cruelties of war will remind each of us on the need for us to continue to play a role in rejecting and condemning violence.

ANZAC Day commemorates the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops on the shores of Gallipoli at ANZAC cove on April 25, 1915. The Australian and New Zealand soldiers were part of a largely British force that contained troops from France, India and New Foundland. On April 25, the allies began an attack on the Ottomon Empire (now Turkey), which was fighting on Germany's side. Tens of thousands of soldiers lost their lives and many more were injured. The allied had to evacuate almost a year later, basically ending in a defeat for the allied force.

In Australia and New Zealand, the day their force landed on Gallipoli was picked as the day to commemorate and honour the lives of those that fought and died. It was not a day of victory that was chosen, but a day to honour the courage of those that fought and died during the campaign. Since then Australians recognise 25 April as an occasion of national commemoration, a day to remember all Australians who served and died in all wars and peace keeping operations.

And from Major General Bill Crews who puts it across much more clearly than I can:
"And yes, they (servicemen and women) fought for our nations, our flags, our people, and their families. But as noble as these ideals were, their commitment in combat, their raw courage, and their self-sacrifice in the face of often overwhelming odds, were driven largely by those physically closest to them – their mates. .........Mateship is at the heart of what we refer to as the ANZAC values: it drives loyalty, courage, endurance and sacrifice. It is a compelling reason for most acts of heroism, and the suffering so often experienced by our servicemen and women: for not letting down the team is a powerful motivator in our nation’s psyche."

So strong is the spirit of mateship and equality in Australian culture that the Roll of Honour that lists by surname and initials all those Australians who have died in war are shown without rank or any other distinguishing award, general and private soldier alike honoured in equal sacrifice.

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old age shall not weary them nor the years condemn at the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them lest we forget.

Rest in peace

*Photos curtesy:

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