“Lest We Forget: Where does Anzac day fit now?”
By Lauren Tomasi
On this 99th Anzac day, we salute and remember those who fought and died for Australia. The Anzacs have all left us for a better place, but with thousands of third generations walking in their spot, is Anzac day still the commemoration it once was?
2015 will be the centenary of Anzac day. Standing for Australian & New Zealand Army Corps, the day recognizes the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is a day that we remember the sacrifice of all Australians who served and died in World War I, and as the years have gone by, the meaning of the day has been further broadened to include Australians killed in all the military operations and conflict in which Australia has been involved. The spirit of the Anzac is one of mate ship, courage and sacrifice – something that holds a significant meaning for our sense of national identity.
With my status as an international student, I feel it only appropriate that I highlight to you, the importance of Anzac day within the Australian culture. April 25th of each year is celebrated, or commemorated depending on how you view it, in Australia. The day begins with a dawn service, commemorating those who fought and fell for their country. Marches fill the streets as communities donning medals which their loved ones earned, come together to recognize the bravery of our soldiers. As the day grows into a celebration of two-up and drinking, friends and family surround us. In these ways, Anzac Day is a time when Australians reflect on the many different meanings of war.
Now this is where it gets tricky. Should we celebrate or should we commemorate on this day?
With the Aussie drinking culture that is known around the globe, the day to many is also a celebration of what we have now, rather than what we lost. It has been argued by some that this ‘detracts from the original spirit of the day and negatively impacts on the veteran commemorations and traditions,’ however I think quite the opposite.
While the day certainly deserves a large level of respect, the event that claimed so many Australian lives shouldn’t be one that is mercilessly gloomy. Whilst being a reflection on what was lost, I truly believe that those lives also deserve to be celebrated respectfully. With young children often being the ones to encourage their parents to come along to the services, this kind of enthusiasm is just part of the reason I would be devastated to see the national holiday go. In saying this, there has been much discussion over whether or not children and family of war veterans should be allowed to wear their ancestor’s badges and medals earned in war, in the Anzac marches.
On another significant note While Anzac day remains one of the most important holidays to many people in Australia, there has also been a lot of talk about whether or not it should continue, particularly in light of the fact that 2015 will be centenary of the holiday. The day has developed into something that is being hotly contested in both terms of significance and meaning.
I believe that the importance of Anzac day, and honoring our war veterans is something that resonates with many people, and particularly so as I write this here in the United States, where national pride is so very prolific. Because of this, I hope you see my point, that a commemoration such as this is so meaningful to our culture.
As I write this in the hope to give an international understanding about this day of importance in a ‘land down under’, I hope that you can gain an appreciation; for the vets we have lost, the loved ones that remained behind and of course, the significance of living in a country where freedom is so central.
Anzac day to me is a day for those who did return from war to stand taller as they march for their comrades who fell for their country. It is a day to educate children and new generations about the importance of respect and the history of our battles. Finally, it is the day that we, as a nation, stand together proudly to reflect on how brave these men and women were, and although not glorifying war, we can appreciate the freedom we have today with our deepest gratitude.
Despite the uncertainty of the day continuing, Anzac day 2015 is expected to stop the nation as we stand together to remember those who fell.
For a day that is changing in many ways, it will always come back to reflection, remembrance and the most sincere appreciation.
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.