Tag Archives: Gallipoli

The ANZAC Spirit 101 Years On

Time marches on. We say we are grateful we have not had a “World War” since 1945. We say we shall not repeat the “sins of our fathers”. And yet, every day, when you turn on the news, it feels like the world is very much still at war – that it has always been at war. Terrorism attacks, crimes, massacres – these are our everyday lives.

The world is getting smaller, despite the population continuing to rise, because technology has allowed us all to grow closer to each other. We can communicate with friends and family with the touch of a button any time of the day. We can fly to the other end of the Earth faster than ever before (though I would still appreciate it if I could get to London in less than twenty-four hours). And when there are terrorist attacks or violence in other parts of the world, we still reel with the pain as if it had happened in our own backyards.

2016 marks the 101st anniversary of the Gallipoli Landing at ANZAC Cove. It marked Australia’s greatest military defeat, alongside our brothers-in-arms across the ditch, New Zealand, yet April 25th is a day we now spend each year to honouring the more than 102,000 service men and women and nurses who have died in battle. Some have questioned why a country would commemorate a day of such a loss. Former Governor of New South Wales (2001-2015), Dame Marie Bashir, commented in a presentation last year that Australia’s participation in WWI, and the Boer War before that, was critical in the country’s identity as Australians as Australia became a Federation in 1901. As we say the words “Lest We Forget” we are honouring the memories of those who fought for their new country and the sacrifices they made to look after our own.

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Lest We Forget – the Spirit of the ANZACs

War Memorial Garden at suburban train station

I was only in primary school when I left Hong Kong to come to Australia.  I knew nothing of Australia’s history or the “ANZAC spirit” but to this day, I will never forget my first introduction to Australia’s involvement in WWI.  It was a rainy day in 1983 and our class was gathered in the school library.  There were a few beanbags scattered around the open space on the floor and some of us were quick enough to have been able to dive for one.  As we settled down, our teacher told us we were going to be watching an Australian film called “Gallipoli“.  Neither the title, nor the film’s now-famous director (Peter Weir) and stars (Mel Gibson and Mark Lee) meant anything to me, but as a TV and movie addict even way back then, I was happy to watch anything.  But by the end of the movie, I was sobbing, and as I looked around the room, so were my classmates, including the boys.  My appreciation for Australian history and its involvement in WWI would never be underestimated again.  In the 1980s, the Australian film and television industry was in love with the Aussie war stories and I devoured every film and mini-series that was made on the subject including “The ANZACs“, “The Lighthorsemen” and A Fortunate Life” based on the autobiography of A.B. Facey.

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