ANZAC Day is a special day for Australians and our close New Zealand allies. It’s a day born out of one of Britain’s greatest military mistakes. However, when faced with enormous adversity, our Australian and New Zealand troops literally dug in and bravely held their position for 8 months before a carefully planned withdrawal was carried out. At this point, I should add that it was the ANZAC’s ingenious creation of a counterweight trigger mechanism that kept firing the guns at random intervals to give the impression that they were still there whilst secretly they withdrew.
Many lives were lost on both sides at Gallipoli, on the Western Front, in the Middle East and throughout the stalemate that lasted years. Even as the world tried to move on from the horrors of a war that shattered so many lives and devastated our country towns, the next massive conflict was already in motion.
It’s easy for us to look at conflicts and demonise those we fought. In fact, a quick look at propaganda from the time, that’s exactly what was done to encourage so many to enlist and fight. However, those we fought against were not savage looking demons hell-bent on destroying the world. Their experiences of war and the stories of soldiers from both sides of these global conflicts, as reflected in personal journals and letters home, show how similar the experience and loss was no matter on which side they were.
The story of the soccer game in no mans land between the allies and the Germans on the Western Front at Christmas time, just goes to show the conflict wasn’t between the individuals. In fact, given other circumstances, amazing friendships could have emerged from such experiences.
However, all the conflicts in which our nation has been involved since the dark days of WWI have been driven by our values and beliefs in what is right and wrong in this world. As Australians, we don’t tolerate political tyranny in any form. It’s always been in our DNA as a nation and a global leader to fight for what we believe is right. The sacrifices our soldiers made and continue to make, are to ensure we can live in a society that’s free of tyranny, dictatorship and oppression and filled with opportunities for everyone to live a long and enjoyable life of their own making.
The world is far from perfect and conflict rages on throughout the globe, driven by twisted ideologies, desire for power, influence and greed. Not everyone has the same opportunities we’ve had as Australians, but all of this comes down to those who have given their lives, so we may live free. This is an impossible debt to repay and we can never truly understand the losses that so many families and communities suffered as a result of war. Every year on ANZAC Day, we as a nation get the opportunity to say thank you to those who have so selflessly given their lives to protect us and our way of life from tyranny.
Lest We Forget.