What will ANZAC Day 2009 mean to you?
ANZAC Day can mean many things to many different individuals and the 25th of April 2009 will be no exception.
Almost every Australian and every New Zealander has their own way of celebrating this most revered of days. The struggle and sacrifice of our ANZAC hero's all those years ago almost single handedly defined our great countries identities, through their courage and bravery. We, as Aussies and Kiwi's, owe a debt of gratitude to those men and women who served not only in the Great War but in any and every previous and subsequent conflict since that defining Gallipoli campaign of 1915.
But what does it mean to each of us as individuals? Naturally this this BLOG will not be able to answer that question on behalf of everyone but I personally can make a few observations and comments of what it means to me as an individual.
Whilst no member of my family fought in the Great War, my grandfather fought against the Japanese in the Second World War and my father fought in Vietnam in the late 60's and early 70's. Naturally, both of these men had a profound influence on my life. My father died when I was quite young thus my mother looked to her family for support, as such I was partly raised by my grandfather all the way through to my late teens. The interesting thing to note here, is the way in which I currently chose to remember our armed forces (whether alive or dead), has evolved unique to both my fathers and my grandfathers way. For me, as a child, the excitement of ANZAC Day slowly but gradually gave way to a proud reflection of my father and grandfathers sacrifices during their service days. Now,(and most likely always whilst I live in Europe) I will make the journey to Turkey and Gallipoli as I feel it is not only my right to remember on that hallowed ground but also my solemn duty. My fathers experience always revolved around marching. No matter where we were or who we were with, he marched. This was routinely followed by drinks with his mates in the pub, telling stories for hours on end, and much back slapping and of course yet more drinks. My grandfather was different again, he preferred a more solitary experience and simply wanted to stay home alone, drink VB's and remember his mates that are no longer with us. All three are different ways of remembering those current and past hero's for sure, but none is any better a way to do so than any other. This is poignant for every Australian and New Zealander out there who has ever, and will ever, be part of any sort of remembrance on ANZAC Day. It's not about how you remember, just that you do remember.
This was reinforced to me recently when I showed my grandfather some photo's of my travels to Gallipoli in Turkey and I commented to him on a rather large group of young people gaudily dressed in green and gold clothing who looked somewhat more like a football supporters group congregating en-mass, rather than respectful attendees of a rememberance memorial service. He simply looked at me and said "What they are wearing is of no consequence, the fact that they are there, and that they ARE remembering, is what's most important".
It had me thinking immediately about those times I may have singled out some individuals or groups on ANZAC Day and shaken my head in silent disapproval at their appearance, demeanour or behaviour. As such I have since embraced the rather obvious fact that larrikinism is part and parcel of the Aussie and Kiwi psyche and I now no longer judge anyone on ANZAC Day as I used to.
Like my grandfather says - As long as they do remember - that is the main thing.
Lest we forget!
Mark Minehan, General Manager, PP Travel, London
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