I’m not a religious man but if I was, Anzac Day would be my hours of worship.
The day holds a special place in my heart, and many others, some more than most.
For decades, centuries even, Australian men and women have helped our country and its Allies fight enemies on our doorstep and abroad.
It’s part of our history, steeped in tradition and sacrifice.
Anzac Day to some is just another holiday – a chance to flood the body with booze and gamble on a coin toss, the origins of which are lost to many. And that’s fine, that is their choice. Our grandfathers fought and died so we could enjoy those freedoms.
But to me and an increasing number of young Aussies, Anzac Day represents the beginning of our grandfathers’ bravery and the story of Australia.
As a youngster, I had little interest in the military and Anzac Day represented just war and soldiers to me. I knew it was important but didn’t really know why. But later in life, after a serendipitous encounter with an Australian Army Reserve recruiting office, my perspective changed on what that word symbolised.
My service is nothing special but I’ve learnt much in the short, 10 or so years I’ve been involved. I’ve never been to war but I’ve travelled the world to places I’d only dreamed of, met some great mates and had some great times I will cherish forever.
During those trips, we represented not only the flag on our shoulder but the traditions established by many of those who served before us in far-away lands, including on the beaches of Gallipoli.
I had heard about the sense of respect our uniform evoked among armies and people overseas. But it wasn’t until I saw it for myself, that I truly appreciated what that respect meant. I grew to understand how it had been built proudly over generations of service and slowly, I gained a better idea of what our continued service, no matter how small or great, means in the wider context and how lucky I am to be part of it.
So that is that is why each year on Anzac Day you will find me listening by the cenotaph as the service address is read. I’m not there as having lost mates in battle and I’m fortunate my body has no wounds from conflict. My mind is also free from the terrors of war that plague many current and former service personnel. I stand there, listen and remember the sacrifices made by our forces because I believe it’s important to remember their legacy, regardless of the political reasons why, lest we forget.
I never planned on joining the reserves, it just happened, but I’m it glad it did. It has been an enlightening experience and well worth the long hours dedicated. When I finally do hang up the boots, I can thank the service for my new perspective.