Just a little disclaimer: I am not a historian nor am I an authority on the matter I am going to write about. I just felt that today, I might take a bit of time and write what I know and feel about ANZAC day and what it means to me.
Today is April 25 which means it's a special day in Australia and New Zealand. Today is ANZAC Day, the day that we remember and pay our respects to those who have served their country in the armed forced. April 25th is the day that the ANZAC (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) landed in Gallipoli, Turkey in 1915. The Gallipoli Campaign was a bloody one which saw the death of over 40,000 and ended in retreat. So why do we choose this day as one of the days that we pay our respects to those who serve and have served our country?
Right after the news of the Gallipoli landings reached Australia, there was a half-day of mourning for the loss of what would finally be over 8,000 Australians. The other contingent of the ANZACS, the New Zealanders also lost nearly 3,000. From 1916 ANZAC Day has been a day of solemn remembrance and respect to those who have fallen in war and those who have returned from war. Continuing through the Second World War and other wars that Australia has been involved in, ANZAC Day has been a day where we remember all of those from the two countries who give of themselves by service to their country.
In our family, we have the journals of my Great-Grandmother whose brother fought in the Second World War in the South Pacific. He was captured by the Japanese and never came home. News of his imprisonment in a POW work camp and his death came many years later and it is touching to read the account of my Grandmother and her feelings concerning the situation.
I also had the opportunity as one of my assignments as a missionary to serve in a congregation for the servicemen and women and their families serving on the Misawa US Air Force Base. This was another eye opening experience for me as I was interacting with families that had fathers serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. I was there as a father said goodbye to his family. I also had the fantastic pleasure of teaching a lovely lady who as a single mum serving in the military. She was a strong woman whose friendship continues to be such a blessing in my life. I met so many people who were diligently who were giving of themselves for their country.
Here in Australia and around the world, let us pay our respects to those who serve our countries. I'd like to finish with the Ode of Remembrance which is read every day in the branches of the Returned Services League all throughout the country and is pondered by many Australians when remember ing those who have fallen.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.