- 22 April, 2015
This Saturday, along with thousands of other Australians, I will wake up very early without complaint (regardless of the weather) to attend my local ANZAC Day Dawn Service.
I am very lucky I am able to walk to the dawn service conducted at Currumbin Beach’s Elephant Rock on the Gold Coast and have been doing it for years, even before Kochie and the Channel 7 Sunrise team decided to do a live broadcast from there.
This year, on the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli, the expected crowd of 35,000+ is a little scary, not to mention that the beach and the car park at the Currumbin Surf Lifesaving Club is only so big! Even my local “hole in the wall” coffee outlet is planning to open at 2.30am to cater for the early crowd.
My attitude to ANZAC Day has changed dramatically over the last 40 years. I am embarrassed now to say that in my youth, I viewed ANZAC day as a day glorifying war without much understanding of the horrors that all soldiers would have encountered on a daily basis in the trenches.
No doubt this attitude was influenced by the strong anti-Vietnam war movement that was very prevalent at the time and the “Make Love, Not War” t-shirts worn by lots of very attractive girls (who also did not believe in bras) didn’t help the situation. Yes, I was a typical 18 year old.
My attitude and understanding started to change after I had children who then regularly marched, as representatives of their schools, in the ANZAC Day parades. My children gave me a far better understanding of how traumatic the loss of a loved one would be.
My son enlisted in the Army and did a tour of Afghanistan and yet again, I was reminded of the true meaning of ANZAC Day.
I then looked at the figures for Australia’s involvement in World War 1 and they are mind numbing to say the least – 324,000 men served overseas with the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), 60,000 lost their lives and 156,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner. At Gallipoli alone, 8,709 men died and 19,441 were wounded. 3,268 Australians from Gallipoli are listed as missing and have no known graves, which gives a new understanding of the ‘tomb of the unknown soldier’. What’s even more astounding is that the Australian population at the time was just five million people.
Even though we were fighting the Turks at Gallipoli, they too lost over 86,692 people and had 164,617 wounded.
I know it sounds a cliché, but all of these people were children, brothers, sisters, fathers and friends. This is what I remember and always makes my eyes water.
History will judge whether a conflict, war, police action or whatever you wish to call it, was right or wrong, but at the time, for those people who lost their lives, they believed what they were doing at the time was right and their loss should never be judged as being in vain because history provides us with the benefit of hindsight.
ANZAC Day is a day to remember those who died and those who watched their brothers, sisters, fathers and friends die because they were doing the “right thing”.
So I implore you, if you have never attended a dawn service, set your alarm early, get out of bed regardless of the weather, don’t grumble and remember those who never had the chance to “Realise their Dreams”.
Realise your Dream
The Realise Your Dream blogs are written by Peter Kelly and Mark Teale. More information about the authors can be found here