I usually write something to mark the passing of another ANZAC Day but was despondent this year and did not manage it on the day.
The fights on social media about the true meaning of ANZAC Day saddened me.
Then, earlier today, I was heartened to read the words spoken by the Governor of Tasmania, the Honourable Peter Underwood. His speech at the Hobart Cenotaph Dawn Service this year summarised my feelings precisely.
“I have always thought that communities gather together on ANZAC Day – usually around a war memorial or cenotaph – to do four things:
The first is to remember those who died or were wounded when their country called them to serve in wars, in other violent conflicts and in peacekeeping missions in which Australia has been, and still is involved.
The second is to reflect upon their service to our country, and for each of us, in our own way, to solemnly honour and pay respect to their bravery and courage.
The third is to think about their mental and physical suffering caused by their service and the pain, loss and suffering it caused their families and loved ones.
The fourth, and perhaps the most important is, as I said last ANZAC Day, to resolve that, in the future, each of us will ask those hard questions about the meaning of wars, their causes and outcomes, in order to become resolute about peace, as well as resolute about fighting when fighting is a genuinely necessary and unavoidable act of self-protection.
All our remembrances and honours are meaningless, unless we also vow to become resolute about peace because that is what those whom we remember and honour on this special day thought they were dying for.”
I commend Mr Underwood’s words and sentiments regarding ANZAC Day and its observance. It is worth reading the PDF of his entire speech.
In reading his speech I was also reminded of Thomas Gray’s meditation on life and death. It is easy to forget how brief our time here really is. And that no matter our state or circumstance we all await the “inevitable hour”.
“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
Awaits alike the inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”
– Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard