The Importance Of Anzac Day Commemoration In Australia

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It is important to commemorate the deeds and actions of Australian servicemen but is equally important to reflect on how we commemorate our servicemen and women. Australians succeeded in many operations during WWI. For this achievement, they deserve to be commemorated. However, we must also respect the lives lost and effected with the horrors of war and be wary of the possibility of idealising war giving consideration to the way we commemorate the ANZACS. ANZAC Day represents the sacrifice of over 416 809 Australians. It is a celebration of their involvement in the war helped by the success of campaigns including victories at Villers-Bretonneux, Mont St Quenbin, Peronne and the battle at Amiens. 60 000 Australian soldiers lost their lives. This is a day where we share a commonality and express our gratitude for their sacrifice. Australia participated in successful advancements against enemy troops, but also endured months of suffering. Respect and solidarity can be expressed with participation of events on the 25th of April each year on the anniversary of the landing in Gallipoli. As Tony Stephens said ‘It is about the spirit, the depth, the meaning, the very essence of our nation.” Many people in today’s generation are idealising ANZAC servicemen and the prospect of war. People view war as a heroic act, looking up to servicemen as role models. But war isn’t heroic. War destroys lives and ruins families. It is not to be glamorised but is a reminder that the past should not repeat itself. Tony Stephens described the horror of war stating that war ‘cuts young lives short and leaves dreams unfulfilled.’

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Although enlistment age was 21, 18 with parent authorisation, boys as young as 14-17 were being deployed across the globe, losing their lives to the atrocity of war. Many who survived physically, deteriorated mentally. Companies are taking advantage of ANZAC Day commercialising the date. Stephens mentions the ‘luxury cruisers to Gallipoli, music … stubby holders and T-shirts…’ becoming an increasingly popular way to show our respects for those who fought. Today, the way we ‘keep the spirit alive’ is purchasing replica sand capsules or keychains, instead of the traditional dawn service or ANZAC Day march. Corporations are creating a phenomenon capitalising their economy. We are not showing our respects to the ANZAC servicemen but buying ourselves false spirit, defeating the purpose of a day designed for respect, honour and mourning. As Tony Stephens says, the day is for ‘national pride and confidence’ not to materialise the original Anzacs. It is important to commemorate the actions of Australian servicemen as it pays tribute to the fallen soldiers who sacrificed their lives to defend Australia. We as Australians stand in unity to celebrate the courage, bravery and determination of the ANZAC servicemen. It is crucial not to idealise the experiences and effects of war on the ANZACS. We must learn to commemorate the ANZACS in a way that does not defeat the original purpose. ANZAC commemoration is not an opportunity to marginalise merchandise and memorabilia but as a way to show our admiration and respect for the countless lives lost. The commemoration of the ANZACS is about ‘the spirit, the depth, the meaning, the very essence of our nation.’

01 February 2021

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