Lest We Forget

Anzac Australian FlagANZAC Day is a day when we as a nation pause and reflect on the first time that Australian military personnel sailed to a foreign land in large numbers and suffered great losses. The biggest contingent we had sent before this was 16,000 troops to the Boer War which resulted in the loss of nearly 600 lives.

The destination in April 1915 was Gallipoli and of the 60,000 or so troops who sailed there almost half (over 26,000) of them were wounded or killed. The trauma of this terrible 'baptism of fire' was immediate with 2,000 Aussies and Kiwis wounded or dying on the first day of the landing. By the end of the failed campaign more than 8,000 Australians lives had been lost.

Gallipoli was the first time that the rest of the world took proper notice of the Land Down Under and paid deep respect to the bravery and ultimate sacrifice of its people who had travelled halfway around the world to fight for freedom and justice. It was there that the "ANZAC Legend" was birthed which recognised the characteristics of the soldiers - their courage under fire, mateship, endurance, good humour, respect for their enemy, ingenuity and larrikin spirit. These were qualities which would help to shape the national character of Australia over subsequent decades.

As a nation we paid a high price. Throughout World War One a force equivalent to almost 10 percent of the Australian population fought on the front lines, tended to wounded in hospitals and carried out other duties. Three out of every five people (64 percent) became casualties with almost 62,000 being killed. The next highest sacrifice was made by our ANZAC colleagues, the New Zealanders, with 59 percent of their force becoming casualties.

When our personnel returned home in 1919 there weren't any victory parades to remember their efforts. This was because, much like now, an epidemic was sweeping the nation and people weren't able to assemble in large groups. (also, troops were dispersed across a number of vessels which arrived in ports at different times) Church services and marches had been held across the nation on April 25th since 1916, however it wasn't until 1921 that ANZAC Day was made official at the State Premiers Conference. The first year in which all of the states observed a public holiday together was 1927.

ANZAC Day is not about glorifying war. This is a humble day in which we pay our respects to those who left everything behind, who returned to shattered lives, and who paid the ultimate sacrifice. We are thankful that these generations before us had the courage to fight for the freedoms that we enjoy today. We also use this day to remember all of those people who served in the other conflicts since Gallipoli. The death toll between Gallipoli 1915 and 2021 stands at more than 102,000 Australians. A tragic statistic. Even today, there are close to 2,000 Australian defence personnel stationed around the world in various combat zones. To all of them we say "Thank you."

Pacific Hope is conducting an ANZAC Day memorial service for our students.

Lest We forget.