Tomorrow is Anzac Day. We will be going to the dawn service. I can’t remember a year in my life that I did not attend an Anzac service, and it is so important to me that my children should learn to commemorate this special day also.
It’s interesting with Mayana, she is starting to become more aware and ask more questions. It’s a fine balance to talk to my four year old about why we have Anzac day and what it means, that it’s more than just a day off for Papa, and why we are getting up so early and what we are going to watch. I want her to understand that it’s important, that people have sacrificed a lot (including people in our own family history) to allow us to live in the place and the way that we do now. But she is far too young to need to be fully aware of the horrors of war, and all that is associated with it. I have an uncle who is serving in the military, and we talk about how he and other soldiers now and before them help to keep our country safe. I asked her just now why we are doing Anzac Day and she said, “It’s to remember about all the people who look after our country, hey.”
I heard a piece on the radio today, a lady (a very educated professional) who is dead against ‘celebrating’ Anzac Day. [Just for the record, I certainly don’t think that ‘celebrating’ is the right term at all. To me it’s commemorating. To me there is nothing very celebratory about what or why we remember Anzac Day, but anyway…] She talked about how farcical it is that people go to Gallipoli, or walk the Kokoda Track or lay wreaths for soldiers at cenotaphs. I just couldn’t gel to what she was saying at all. I really, truly believe that Anzac Day is important. I think in our generation, which hasn’t really seen war.. at least not in the way that our grandparents did.. needs a reminder every now and again of what our young country has been through. We get too comfortable, and entitled, and can easily forget that it all came at a cost. Anzac Day to me not only is about remembering the men and women who served our country in the battlefields, but women who waved off husbands and were left alone at home with their children and an unknown future, people who were ravaged by the wars, whose homes and towns were annihilated, children left orphans, women left widows, women and children raped and abused, families destroyed… The whole thing is just so abhorrent, but it happened. And I can’t help but think it is just so right for us to take just one day… (and really such a small part of a day) to remember this. To pay our respects, and spare a few thoughts for them all… the ones that lost their lives and the ones that made it home.
Every Anzac Day I watch the returned soldiers march by, every year their group is a little smaller, they’re all a little frailer. Every year they bring tears to my eyes. I imagine them as young men, younger than my husband, some of them drafted and with little choice but to go and fight in a big, terrifying war. They make me proud, and I want them to know that I am proud, and thankful, and so very grateful. And I want to teach my kids to feel that way too. Lest we forget.
Do you make a point of commemorating Anzac Day? Do you think it’s important to teach the next generation to do the same?