Lest we forget…

ANZAC Day at the shrine   Today, April 25th, is celebrated as ANZAC Day is Australia and New Zealand.

ANZAC Day is a day for us all to remember the sacrifices of those men and women who have served the country in times of war. Many of these brave people made the ultimate sacrifice. I have personally visited war cemeteries in France and Papua New Guinea, and despaired at the rows and rows of headstones, each marking the life of a young person, tragically cut short.

Across Australia, ANZAC Day is marked by dawn services; larger ones held in capital cities (Melbourne’s attracted 30,000 people), and smaller ones held in suburban and country towns. My twelve year old son and I attended the service at the East Keilor Returned Services League. Around 1,000 people gathered in the darkness around a small war memorial, and paid our respects in a short but moving ceremony.

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

A bugler played The Last Post, which rang out mournfully in the chill morning air. A minute’s silence was then observed, followed by the stirring Reveille and finally the national anthem. The crowd included people of all ages, from babies and young children through to WWII veterans and their widows. It is moving to think that so many people are interested enough to pay their respects in this small way.

Following the service the crowd is invited into the RSL Club for breakfast. The servicemen partake in a traditional tot or two of rum. Later they will partake in the Australian past-time of ‘two up’ and perhaps head into Melbourne to participate in or watch the annual ANZAC Day march.

Another ANZAC Day tradition is the annual Essendon v Collingwood game of AFL football, which is held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in front of a capacity crowd of around 92,000. The day is marked by various tributes to the armed services, including a motorcade around the ground of veterans from all of Australia’s past and present military campaigns. A full memorial service is conducted before the game, and it is moving and inspirational to be present in a completely silent crowd of 92,000.

My family and I will all be heading into the game to cheer on the mighty Bombers. But win, lose or draw, we will all be heading safely home, which is more than many of our war heroes were ever able to do.

Lest we forget.


10 Responses to Lest we forget…

  1. riza says:

    That’s great. It’s something new for me. Cause in Australia–from press–I know about nude party/carnaval only, more gays and lesbi. And I supprise there is something different. He..he..he..I am stupid sorry.

  2. clarkebruce says:

    Yes, there is a lot more to Australia than the Gay & Lebian Mardi Gras. Sounds like we need a bit of Public Relations work in Indonesia.

  3. riza says:

    I agree with you. C’mon, I’ll be waiting for your posting again. 🙂 Now, I have your blog’s feed. So, I always read your new posting. 🙂

  4. rambleicious says:

    Do you also observe Remembrance Day on November 11 in Australia?

    Also, thank you for your comments on my site! I hope your writing goes well too. I’ll be visiting here again to read more. 😀

  5. clarkebruce says:

    Yes we also observe Remembrance Day in Australia, but it is not a public holiday. Generally workplaces, schools etc stop for a minute’s silence at 11am – the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the end of the First World War.

    ANZAC Day commemorates the anniversary of the first major battle fought by Australian and New Zealand troops in WWI.

    Why is ANZAC day so special to Australians?

    When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only fourteen years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. They landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.


  6. […] Riza recently expressed surprise that Australia celebrated Anzac Day. […]

  7. col gray says:

    I enjoyed your article on ANZAC DAY Bruce Clarke.

    ANZAC DAY has much more meaning for me (and I’m sure many other Australians) than our traditional Australia Day, January 26th.

    ANZAC day is a day for mateship, remembering the past and looking to the future. I love mingling with the war veterens who gather in the bars and in the streets on ANZAC day. I said “G’day” to my first digger at about 8.30am on ANZAC day where I saw this distinguished old gentleman in his suit, proudly displaying his war medals on his way to catch the train to meet up with mates he has probably had for 60-70 years. After I said my simple “G’day mate” I could see this fella lift a little in anticipation of the day ahead of him.

    I enjoy catching up with my own mates on ANZAC day and I find that all of us are unashamedly patriotic. I enjoy attending the ANZAC day march in Melbourne with my wife and children. To see these old men and women on their day proudly marching from Flinders St to the Shrine of Rememberence is at times quite moving – especially when the distance is probably further than many of them walk on any other day of the year. Through determination, those who can, still walk the distance – others enjoy the day no less by being driven to the Shrine.

    This year more than any previous years my 12 year old son Adam really took an interest in our history and I enjoyed telling him stories that I have heard of the courage and bravery of young soldiers, some not that much older than he who, for many, left home for an adventure of no return.

    Our country is built on such stories.

    I used to sit down with my grandmother to hear her stories of the early 20th century. These were a generation of people who lived through war, brought children up in years of depression, only to fall into another war a handful of years later. 60 years on my grandmother would still get a tear in her eye when she told me of her ‘favorite’ brother Dick who went to France and didn’t return. She told me of the heartache of having two of her own sons leave to fight in WW2. My father who was 6 years old at the time remembers crying at the gate when they left. Thankfully they both returned but never uttered a word about their experiences. Being a parent I can’t imagine what it would be like saying goodbye to a son or daughter leaving for battle. I find it hard even thinking about it.

    Also the tales of young men who were selected by the lottery of birth dates to again put life on the line in the name of their country in Vietnam and the insecurities of Korea. The Vietnam vets had to then endure the indignity of being ostracised by an ignorant nation upon their return in a time of great change in the world. I spoke to one Vietnam vet this year who told me that he had only been marching on ANZAC day since the late 1980’s because before then the returned soldiers failed to get the recognition they deserved from the RSL and fellow Australians. Another Vietnam vet refuses to march at all because he still hasn’t forgiven the RSL for the treatment he received upon his return. Thankfully as a nation we are now more aware and understanding of what these young men and women endured and sacrificed for all of us.

    I have so much admiration for the young men and women of our armed forces today. They gather with their mates in uniform on this day, taking in their stride the realities of being possibly the next to be called upon to serve in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    I am encouraged by the great numbers of Australians and New Zealanders who make the pilgramage to ANZAC Cove in Gallipoli each year and the scores of young and old who attend dawn services across the country and who celebrate the day for what it is.

    The memory of what ANZAC day represents should never be forgotten.

    I for one will always remember on ANZAC day for my grandmother’s brother Dick and the thousands of young men and women who didn’t come home.

    Lest we forget.

  8. clarkebruce says:

    Awesome post Colin Gray.

    My uncle was one of those Vietnam vets who only started marching recently. He and his mates were spat on when they got back to Australia from active duty.

  9. clarkebruce says:

    PS – You definitely need your own blog

  10. […] remember folks, you read the article here […]

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