Are we commemorating Anzac Day in the right way?
Emily Algar wonders if we are celebrating instead of commemorating the sacrifice of the Anzacs.
The 25th day of April will mark exactly 100 years since Australian and New Zealand forces began the bloody battle that was the First World War. At the time, the Federation of Australia was only 13 years old, but even then we were a brave nation ready to protect our new found freedom. Brothers, fathers and sons made the honorable decision to protect the country they knew and loved, knowing they may not make it home. 8000 Australian soldiers were lost in the battle at Gallipoli. A century on, we continue to remember the fallen and those who fought for our country every Anzac Day.
However, the ways in which we remember are varied. A Dawn Service, The Last Post, a beer and game of two-up at the pub, they’re all ways to take part in the Anzac tradition and pay your respects. But what happens if a beer at the pub becomes nine or ten? Are young Australians using Anzac day as an excuse to get wasted?
The generational gap between young and old is causing concern for some who worry the true meaning of Anzac Day is lost in the younger generations. There are concerns that instead of paying respects to the fallen they’re cheering over the fact that it’s a perfect excuse to party (in excess) and maybe come home up a few dollars (if you’re lucky) because everyone has the day off. This year you can even get into King Street early as they are opening at 6pm instead of 9pm as an Anzac day ‘special opening’. Is partying in a nightclub disrespectful, or are there simply different ways of commemorating the mate ship that is the Anzac legend?
Young soldier Katherine Marie Page, 24, sheds some light on the ways that Gen Y engage with Anzac Day. Katherine is posted in Townsville and provides administrative support to all of the army units within the region. While she has always respected the Anzac tradition, she explains that her view has altered since she became a soldier.
“I now have a deeper understanding of what it feels like to be a soldier and what it feels like to honor the fallen on Anzac Day…not just from the outside,” said Katherine.
So what about the youths who are on the outside? We might have a family connection, but some are lucky enough to have not been touched personally by war. Does this mean they are out of touch with the true meaning?
“I feel that the younger generation engage with it on a less personal level as some are not as educated about what went on back then… I feel the more we educate the younger generation the more we will be able to respect the true meaning behind Anzac Day,” said Katherine.
There may not exactly be a lack of respect, but it is so important to recognise and understand the true legacy of the Anzacs and revere those who fought to get our country to where it is today.
This year, being the centennial anniversary, is set to be extremely emotional and “one of the most memorable years yet”, said Katherine. But April 25 marks an important date every year because each Anzac Day is “just as significant as the year before”.
If you want a few beers after the Dawn Service on Anzac Day, do it! But be sure to acknowledge you have the freedom to do so because of the brave troops who defended our country on the shores of Gallipoli exactly 100 years ago.
The Anzac legacy of mateship, courage and honor will continue to live on in all Australians, young and old. Lest We Forget.
Image: Jenny Scott, Flickr, no changes made