Remember without guilt
On April 25, 1915, volunteer Australian and New Zealand soldiers found themselves wading ashore before dawn at a small beach on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. Many were only teenagers, some as young as 16.
This year’s Anzac Day marks the 103rd anniversary of the Anzac landing at Gallipoli where the Australians encountered the mass killing power of modern warfare. But in battle after battle it was not powerful enough to weaken the bonds of mateship.
36,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers were killed or wounded at Gallipoli.
Australia’s WWI dead fell for a cause that some people today criticise as futile and nothing to do with Australia, while the politically correct exhort the view that we should forget the past and not glorify war with events such as Anzac and Remembrance Day.
SN115616, my father, enlisted in the RAAF in 1942 at the age of 18. He served overseas in Hollandia, Morotai Island and his last post, Labuan off the coast of Borneo. He never spoke about his service in the RAAF and would always depart the loungeroom when one of us was watching a war movie or documentary. This however did not prevent him from marching proudly on Anzac Day, attending and leading Remembrance Day services, travelling to Melbourne for unit reunions or keeping in contact with mates he served with. Memories of his service time and his mates were his and his alone, which he did not forget throughout his life.
Memories of war enable us to remember the past, give thanks to those who sacrificed their lives and served their country, and to acknowledge and accept that, on occasions, events and happenings from the past occurred for significant and highly acceptable reasons. We should feel no guilt or shame for these actions.
We, as Australians, come together every Anzac Day to remember the Anzacs and their achievements. We must continue to commemorate their triumph over extreme adversity in deplorable circumstances.
Over the years the numbers of WWI and WWII veterans who survive to march on Anzac Day continues to decline. In time, all the veterans of even the more recent wars will no longer be with us.
The numbers of Australians gathering on Anzac Day however, continues to grow as we desire to maintain the memories of their efforts and respect the example of service to their nation they set.
These growing numbers put paid to the desires of those who would prefer we forgot about the past actions of others and did not acknowledge their contribution to protecting our way of life. It is okay to forgive but to forget besmirches the memories of the heroic efforts performed by others before us.
The Australian characteristics - courage, endurance, initiative, discipline, and mateship - exhibited at Gallipoli and other theatres of war, must never be forgotten. We need to embed them in our daily lives.
For the sake of the future of our great country, each of us need to always carry the spirit of Anzac as we continue the job of building a better Australia for our future and ignore the politically correct.
Remembering moments from our history allows us as a society to learn from them and move forward in a positive and determined manner. We cannot change history and nor should we, but we can learn from it.
As you share stories and memories on Anzac Day have a laugh, shed a tear or two and take a moment to remember those who served their country and exhibit no guilt for doing so.
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.
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