What does ANZAC Day mean to me? More than anything, I think of the reasons young soldiers, sailors and airmen have served Australia with distinction since before Federation. It is claimed that Australia lost her innocence on the shores of Gallipoli. I would counter that rather than losing anything, Australia gained a reputation.

Just 170 men out of the Australian 4th Brigade that landed ashore on the 24/25 April 1915 made it off 8 months later. Out of over 4000 men, 170left. The brigade was essentially a different unit from the one that stormed ashore and then was stalled by the forbidding terrain and incessant sniping and shell-fire. And yet, the character of the men remained the same. This was a wag's idea of how to run the AIF's campaign after they landed in Egypt.

To visit Leicester Lounge
Climb the pyramids
Drink beer
Shoot the Kaiser
Drink more beer
Capture Constantinople
Raid the Sultan’s harem
Drink more beer
Shave our moustaches (some of us)
Drink more beer
Flirt with French girls
Return home covered with medals
Drink more beer.

Typically Australian humour. Optimistic, irreverent. The same character traits that the general Australian public like to call their own. Ockers. Larrikins. The Diggers forged a reputation of no-nonsense approach to soldiering. Rarely trusted to be up-front around the barracks, once on the field of battle, the colonials were regarded as tough and worthy opponents by all they faced. Whether in the foxholes of the Gallipoli Peninsula, or the mud of the Western Front, the Australians faced up to the challenges set before them and forged a legend.

Today, school-children write about what ANZAC Day means to them as part of the curriculum. Editors around the country drag out interviews and pictures. Anti-war campaigners complain about the glorification of war. The media go into nationalistic hyperbolic over-drive, with commentary about every possible military related topic. The armchair generals re-debate the follies of following the Empire into wars against countries that offered no threat to Australia. Online commentary is written. Opinions espoused. And then on April 26, life goes on.

Remember what our fallen tried to protect. Our way of life. Australia as a nation was partially moulded by these heroic figures 90 years ago. Don't let their deeds be forgotten. It sounds trite if people just mouth the words around the Cenotaphs and Memorials. Remember.

Lest we forget.

Crossposted at Bastards Inc.

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