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Why is Anzac Day so important?

Anzac Day

Bleary-eyed and half asleep, I reluctantly stumbled out of bed and began my preparations for an important day. It was April 25, Anzac Day, and as an Australian Air Force Cadet I was anxious not to be late for my local town’s Dawn Service.


In Australia and New Zealand, Anzac Day is a public holiday in which the people of both countries honour the memory of the troops who served in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) during the First World War.


Later, shivering in the chill morning air, I stood at attention with my fellow Cadets, forming the Guard of Honour. As the bugle blew and the sun crested the horizon, I realised that as a young person, it is easy to view Anzac Day as insignificant. Many Australians do not think of it at all. What do we have, other than the fading stories of a distant relation or a great-great-grandfather who served, to connect us to those who fought in the Great Wars? I pondered, not for the first time, why this day is so important?


In Australia, there are many differing views on Anzac Day. Some believe that it is a day that celebrates and glorifies war. However, this is not so. Anzac Day gives Australians the opportunity to commemorate those who fell. War is brutal, and especially in the Gallipoli campaign, thousands of Australians died unnecessarily, due to miscommunication and faulty command. Yet if we forget or shy away from the dreadful cost of war, we might easily find ourselves repeating the mistakes of those who lived before us. Anzac Day is not a day to honour war, but to honour those who fell and remember the cost of freedom.


Those men and women should not be forgotten. They fought, and gained for Australians the liberty we enjoy every day. Their sacrifice was real and terrible. None of them that survived returned home unscathed. All of them to a degree experienced trauma both mental and physical.


Despite the horrors of war, the Anzacs were known for their good humour, camaraderie, sacrifice, ingenuity, endurance and courage. It is important for young people to treasure the Anzac Spirit within them. To stand up for what is right. To defend the helpless, to watch out for our friends and to guard our families.  We must not repay their courage with ignorance and indifference.


As a Cadet I am privileged to be able to, in a way, represent those soldiers who shaped the Australian Army. I hope that if ever the need arose, the next generation would stand up for our freedoms, our country, our families, our mates, for life, for truth and for those who cannot fight for themselves. We must follow the examples of those courageous Australians. Let their sacrifices not be given in vain.


Each year as Anzac Day approaches…


I will remember with honour…


Their Sacrifice.


 

Originally published at Your Commonwealth.

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