“People always talk about how hard it can be to remember things – where they left their keys, or the name of an acquaintance – but no one ever talks about how much effort we put into forgetting. I am exhausted from the effort to forget… There are things that have to be forgotten if you want to go on living.”
~ Stephen Carpenter
Today is the 100th Anniversary of ANZAC Day, a special day in the heart of all Australians as we stop to remember the fallen – the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps of the Great War – and all of the service men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country with that same ANZAC spirit.
April 25 marks the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand forces on the beaches of Gallipoli in 1915 – it was the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand troops, as they joined the Commonwealth forces. In sad fact, the Gallipoli Campaign was a resounding defeat for the ANZACs, with much loss of life. So why do we choose to use that loss as a point of remembrance? Despite that defeat, and the futility of the entire campaign, the name ANZAC became synonymous with a bond of mateship, courage and pride. That spirit which still holds true today.
As in every war, so many young men and women died; beloved sons and daughters (War is not just about men – don’t forget the women who served; as nurses and drivers, admin assistants and cooks, among other roles), husbands, wives and lovers lost, brothers and sisters, friends, mothers and fathers.
In the Great War alone (later to be called World War One) there were over 35 million casualties, both military and civilian, with over 15 million confirmed dead. From a country with a population of fewer than five million, 416,809 Australians enlisted, of which over 60,000 were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner. (Source – Australian War Memorial). It was a huge loss to our country. Today, on ANZAC Day, we remember them, and all they and their families sacrificed for us.
We honour you.
We acknowledge you.
We thank you.
Most importantly though, my wish this ANZAC Day is that some of this rousing emotion and gratitude be directed to the living – those serving men and women, our veterans, and their families.
Let us have learned something from all of that suffering of the Great War and those wars that have followed. Let us have compassion and understanding for those who still suffer the scars of war – both seen and unseen. Let us do all we can to support those who serve and whom have served.
They have sacrificed so much for us, that we may know freedom.
It’s honourable to commemorate the fallen, but how much more useful to provide support to the living.
Let’s look after each other – today and always.