Lest we forget | The proud ANZAC legacy

The Birth of the ANZAC Legend

In the darkness of the early hours of Sunday 25 April 1915 an operation began that would eventually shape the spirit of unity of the fledgling nations of Australia and New Zealand. The battle to take the Gallipoli Peninsula was to last 8 months almost 50,000 ANZAC’s were committed to the front fighting alongside their British, French and Indian allies. By withdrawal it had cost the lives of over 8,000 Australian and 2,700 New Zealanders as well as many more allied and Turkish soldiers.

Although the campaign did not achieve its military goal it birthed a powerful legacy, the Anzac Spirit, which today is an important part of the national identity of both Australia and New Zealand. (ANZAC is the name given to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps).

Occasionally I am asked by friends or family as to why the Gallipoli campaign has become the focal point of remembrance for Anzac day? There were, after all, other campaigns with equal or even worse hardships, there were other battles with famous victories, sometimes against amazing odds; in fact the campaign if not a defeat, was most certainly not a success. The answer is quite simply that Gallipoli was Australia and New Zealand’s violent introduction to the Great War. It is of special significance because it was our first true campaign, the

first time Australia as one whole nation had been in a major conflict and its cost to us was dear. News of the fateful landing had an incredible impact on the public back home and the event was forever etched as one of the most significant moments in the country’s short history.

Anzac day is a calendar day when the people of Australia and New Zealand remember this first national action, but the point of the Anzac day itself is not about the remembrance of an event or a date, it represents many more things, human spirit, mateship, co-operation and unselfishness, sacrifice, courage in the face of adversity, it is a solemn memorial of heartbreak and suffering and a reflection about the futility of war. It is also a reminder of the responsibility we should all take to ensure our own future and that of those we love. The 25th of April is now broadly recognised as a day to remember our service men and women who have served and died in all wars, conflicts, peacekeeping, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance missions, a day also to spare a thought for our troops who are still serving in operations around the globe and to wish them a safe return home.
I live in Darwin, Australia. For me Anzac day typically begins early at around 0500, assembling on base at Larrakeyah Barracks with my unit for a traditional ‘Gunfire Breakfast’ which is basically coffee mixed with rum. From there the regiment is loaded on buses and driven down to the dawn service which takes place at the Cenotaph in Bicentennial Park on the Esplanade. The turnout most years is generally a few thousand people. Modern dawn services will commonly feature similar themes across Australia,
with an introduction and history, public addresses, songs, recitations and a period of silence to remember those lost. In Darwin the dawn service starts when the RSL contingent is honoured as they make their customary march from the RSL Club on Cavenagh St to the Cenotaph. For me the dawn service is an incredibly touching ceremony and I generally am holding back tears as ‘The Last Post’ is played by a solitary bugler. By mid morning we begin mustering in the staging area on the Esplanade prior to the commencement of our march through the city centre. The march contingents represent war veterans and current serving members of the Australian Defence Force as well as Australian Defence Force Cadets and other uniformed groups. Darwin has a big military representation here from all armed services so the line-up in the staging area can stretch for quite a distance. Occasionally we will have visiting US Armed Forces who will also take part in the parade and activities. At the conclusion of the parade it is back to base again with the regiment where members and their families gather for a barbeque and the customary two-up games that follow. It is tribute to the national importance of Anzac Day that the 25th of April is the only day when it is legal to play two-up outside an officially licenced venue in Australia.
Time dims the memory of ordinary events, but not great events. In a nation’s history, great events, whether in peace or war, live in our memories regardless of time. They are deemed great not necessarily for what they achieve, nor for whether they are reckoned to be victories or successes. Rather, the great events are distinguished by the quality of the human endeavour they call upon, by the examples they create for ordinary men and women, and by the legends they inspire. So it is with ANZAC day
- General public address from defence.gov.au
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.
- Ode of Remembrance ( 3rd and 4th Versus )
“Those heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours. You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they become our sons as well.”
- Kemal Ataturk ( an inscription on the Gallipoli Memorial in Turkey )
A Pittance of Time | Terry Kelly
Terry Kelly is an acclaimed singer/songwriter from Canada. He is probably best known for his Remembrance Day ballad ( movie below ) “A Pittance of Time”. It has since been adopted worldwide by English speaking nations as a general tribute to all their service men and women both past and present. Underneath the video is a short story on the events that inspired Terry to write this moving piece.
About The Song :On November 11, 1999 Terry Kelly was in a drug store in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. At 10:55 AM an announcement came over the stores PA asking customers who would still be on the premises at 11:00 AM to give two minutes of silence in respect to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.Terry was impressed with the stores leadership role in adopting the Legions two minutes of silence initiative. He felt that the stores contribution of educating the public to the importance of remembering was commendable.When eleven oclock arrived on that day, an announcement was again made asking for the two minutes of silence to commence. All customers, with the exception of a man who was accompanied by his young child, showed their respect.Terrys anger towards the father for trying to engage the stores clerk in conversation and for setting a bad example for his child was channeled into a beautiful piece of work called, A Pittance of Time. Terry later recorded A Pittance of Time and included it on his full-length music CD, The Power of the Dream.
Lest We Forget | Anzac Spirit
This article is also kindly mirrored at : bcavanagh.com


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