Lest we forget
"At the going down of the sun and in the morning
we will remember them"
For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon
This Sunday the 25th April marks ANZAC Day, the day set aside to pause and pay tribute to those who lost their lives in war and in all the military and peacekeeping operations in which Australia has been involved.
"We the families remember the fallen every day, every birthday, every special occasion, yet it is comforting that on ANZAC day the nation commemorates their bravery with us."
Parent of deceased soldier.
Collective commemoration does much more than just raise awareness of acts of bravery and loss of life. Researchers have found that memorial ceremonies consistently elicit emotions such as pride and admiration in response to the costly sacrifice of soldiers. commemorations are not linked to feelings of regret for the country’s actions in military conflicts. In addition, when remembering the price paid made by our fellow citizens, people are more likely to express support for diplomatic than military solutions for international conflicts.
The origin of the ANZAC Day dawn service is the traditional ‘stand-to’, in which troops would be woken early to ensure that by the first rays of the sun they were in position and alert, in case of an enemy attack in the half-light. Dawn "is also is symbolic in the sense that we move out of darkness and into light," Professor Tom Frame.
According to legend, in the early hours of ANZAC Day in 1927, a group of five war veterans were making their way home from an ANZAC function in Sydney when they stopped at the as yet unfinished cenotaph in Martin Place. They saw an elderly woman placing flowers on the cenotaph, bowed their heads beside her and vowed to hold a dawn service each year.
“Mateship meant everything,” he said quietly. “[The commemorations are] an opportunity to pay tribute to those who lost their lives, and those who were wounded … I was a lieutenant with 30 men under me, and later a captain … [and] you had complete faith in the troops, but mateship, that was everything.”
From cities to small towns, the march has long been the centrepiece of ANZAC Day. Marches were held during the Great War, and became popular with veterans in the 1920s, to honour lost friends and publicly express comradeship. In recent times, the ANZAC Day march has expanded to include former soldiers from allied armies, as well as the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren assisting aged veterans or representing their relatives.
“Mateship is a mutual respect that binds men for life, and enables them to either embrace or overlook their mates’ foibles and draws on a seemingly limitless depth of commitment to each other.”
The ANZAC sprit which was forged at Gallipoli has many lessons for all of us today. With a foundation of egalitarianism and mutual support, the soldiers displayed great courage, endurance, initiative, discipline, and mateship. When I wrote earlier in the year about our unsung heroes, I was remiss not to mention the daily acts of bravery undertaken by past and present members of our armed services, and their families.
“I left my heart to the sappers round Khe Sanh And the soul was sold with my cigarettes to the black market man I've had the Vietnam cold turkey From the ocean to the Silver City And it's only other vets could understand”
Khe San by Cold Chisel (click here for the song)
According Dr Dee Gibbon OAM CSC, "veterans struggling with mental health issues and feelings of disconnectedness, the goodwill and overt public support experienced each Anzac Day can be enough to keep the PTSD demons at bay".
Click here for details of live and virtual ceremonies in NSW.
Click here for the last post
What will you remember when you stand for a minute of silence this ANZAC Day?
References: www.spsp.org. (n.d.). The Psychological Effects of Memorial Day and Other Military Commemorations | SPSP. [online] Available at: https://www.spsp.org/news-center/blog/watkins-psychological-effects-memorial-day.
Watkins, H.M. and Bastian, B. (2019). Lest We Forget: The Effect of War Commemorations on Regret, Positive Moral Emotions, and Support for War. Social Psychological and Personality Science, p.194855061982906. https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1617/Quick_Guides/TraditionsRituals https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/blog/bill-grayden-and-kokoda Lindsay, P., The Spirit of the Digger, Harper Collins, 2003, 16 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-24/the-anzac-day-dawn-service/6393456