“We are summoned to recall the battle sacrifices of Australian farmers and tally clerks, teachers and labourers and to commemorate outstanding courage and strength of character in the face of sustained adversity… [The campaign] won for us an enduring sense of national identity based on those iconic traits of mateship, courage, compassion and [commonsense].”*
As we look towards ANZAC Day, we remember most often the Gallipoli campaign of the World War I where many of our ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) gave their lives so we may live ours in safety. It’s a time too, when we acknowledge soldiers and support teams in other fields of combat – WWII, Korea, Vietnam and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan – during which our ANZACs have, and still do, distinguish themselves through their bravery and courage to defend our nation (and other nations) to bring us to peace once again.
ANZAC Cove, on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey, is the infamous site of the World War I landing of ANZACs on 25 April 1915, a battle that continued on and off through to 9 January 1916. Within a kilometre of the front line, and well within range of the enemy artillery, a “safe” section of beach was established where supplies and extra troops could be brought ashore. This was to be the main base for eight long months of the Gallipoli Campaign fought hard by our ANZACs. More than 11,000 ANZACs fell never to rise again; over 24,000 were wounded and multitudes of soldiers succumbed to hellish, unsanitary conditions – resulting in enteric fever, dysentery and diarrhoea.
This defining, truly landmark episode in our history has given rise to the ANZAC spirit we now all share. ANZAC Day is a chance for us all to be part of, and remember, what Australian’s look to as their collective heritage. It’s about true heroes showing strength, bravery and ingenuity when faced with adversity. It’s about retaining that Aussie sarcasm and cutting sense of humour. Australian is, quite simply, an overriding belief in mateship and equality for all.
Today, Gallipoli Cove is a place of homage to the fallen, it is a beacon to Australians and New Zealanders alike who wish to remember the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country. Set on a picturesque, serene open bay, the surrounding beauty embraces the past courage in which a new Australian national identity was born – this is the legend of ANZAC, and for this we are truly grateful.
In every battle Australian servicemen and women excel themselves – World War I and II, in Europe and the Pacific campaigns, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf and more. It is to them we look for our safety, and to them we look for our heroes. And while we can visit the landscapes and experience the cultures, and try to imagine a war where the ultimate sacrifice was made. It was their hardship, their journeys, their very lives – and for a day, ANZAC Day, it falls to us to remember them. Lest we forget.
*Anzac Day remembered across the globe – ABC News Online. 2006-04-25. Archived from the original on 29 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-10.)