This is a personal post for a special day.

Because today, April 25, is a special day for Australians. Although we have an official national day, Australia Day in January, today, Anzac Day, has much more significance for most Australians.

The Australian War Memorial site explains why.

ANZAC Day – 25 April – is probably Australia’s most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they soon took in that name endures to this day.

I understand that even after reading the War Memorial explanation, perhaps you have to be an Australian or a New Zealander to understand why the anniversary of a day of a bungled landing under withering fire and the beginning of a campaign that was to end in military defeat and withdrawal is a day of quiet pride and reflection for Australians.

But this day was truly a defining moment for a young nation.

I recalled another day, long ago, standing with my mother at the war

memorial in the little country town of Tumbarumba and my mother showing me the names of young men, boys, she had known growing up in

that town and who had gone off to World War I. What lives in my mind is my mother pointing out the clusters of family names, names – she told me – of

whole groups of brothers who went to war, some never to come back. What anguish for their mothers and the rest of those left behind.

And as I stood in the half light of dawn this morning at Currumbin Beach with thousands of others, and listened to the commemorative service, I was struck by how many of the crowd were young people. This was no celebration of war. This was a mass pausing for respect to be paid to those who richly deserve it, those who died far from home and those who returned, some to bear terrible burdens of physical and mental suffering.

It was a quiet, reflective celebration of the peace that we enjoy, in no small measure due to the sacrifices of Australian men and women in past times of great conflict.

So I was really pleased that the veterans had approved having a rock concert on the beach as a later part of the day’s events – they knew what they and their mates had gone to fight for and it wasn’t for people to go around with long faces looking serious.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon, For the Fallen

And seeing so many young people standing quietly and respectfully in the crowd today, I felt a great sense of confidence about the future of our beloved country in their hands. A true blue mob indeed.

Lest we forget.

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