ANZAC Day is a sombre experience. Children grow up learning April 25th is not a happy or heroic day in Australia. It is a day of remembrance and reflection. Each year city streets are lined with volunteers selling small poppy flower pins and brass broaches to raise money for veterans. And on the day we hold our breath as the beagle plays at dawn, trying to imagine how it would feel being surrounded by your mates and war on a beach.
There isn’t as much a sense of patriotism as there is mateship for your fellow man and woman. There are sporting, religious, cultural, fashion and foodie differences that may divide us on varying levels of friendly banter to hateful misunderstandings, but what shines through is our open – maybe not always agreeable – but open nature to stand by your mate. We cheer for the underdog and don’t need an excuse to hang out over a beer – perhaps that is why one of the most popular Prime Ministers was the one who could skull a scooner whilst being cheered on.
Living abroad for the first time and experiencing ANZAC Day from the outside, so to speak, reminds me of how lucky I am to call Australia home. Australia has provided me with endless beaches to explore, too much sun, an education that lead me to university to study in a field I am passionate in, and a safe place to come back to when I have quenched my thirst for travel. It keeps my family and friends happy and healthy and provides a good laugh to strangers when you joke about riding kangaroos to school growing up. Which is all you could want really – to laugh like a silly galah with new and old mates.
It was the first year away, and it may not be the last, but I will always remember the ANZACs. With the coming of the day and the going of the night their legacy will live on so we can remember the sacrifice others made in the hopes of our futures above their own. So don’t waste it. Lest we forget.
The Ode, by Laurence Binyon
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.