Blog: Lest we forget
Wenona marked Anzac Day with our Cadets laying a wreath at the Cenotaph and Year 11 students, Constance, Bella and Kate, speaking movingly at Assembly about the contribution of the Royal Australian Air Force.
Constance said, “It is said that history books describe the Gallipoli landing as the day Australia came of age. Today we acknowledge the soldiers and the heroes and salute the hundreds of thousands of Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations for the service of our nation. It is a day to reflect on the morning of the 25 April 1915, when the Anzacs set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies.
This year, we reflect not only the service of the ANZACS who fought for our country, but the Royal Australian Air force, who marked 100 years of service to Australia this year. This means it is an important time to reflect and pay tribute to the Royal Australian Air Force’s contributions to the security of Australia. From its beginnings in 1921, the Air Force has grown into a potent, world class Air Force which Australia relies upon in both conflict and peace.”
Bella said, “Anzac Day, as we all know, is not a day that marks any military triumph for Australians, but it’s a day that is central to Australia’s national pride and identity, as it marks a moment of great strength and unity and caring for our fellow country man. Throughout the years it has gained great traction as it’s widely considered to be a key day to celebrate our core values and beliefs. It has shaped the way we view our identity, epitomising mateship and courage. This includes the Royal Australian Air Force. My great grandfather fought with them. He died when I was 2, and we still have his medals today.
Although the generations that fought in the wars are leaving us, I think what a lot of people forget is that the people we hear about in history, are just people within a different time, but the same as you and me.
We can still see their influence. Their thoughts and sentiments carry through in their descendants. We still hold the ANZAC narrative close to us, and hopefully as our values as a nation progress, these principles will continue to grow and evolve with us. But we will always value its core sentiments of mateship and courage, which our fellow Australians died defending.”
Kate said, “106 years on, we still recognise the Gallipoli landing. It is an indication of the significance of Anzac Day and its relevance to every Australian. Personally, I believe that Anzac Day should be commemorated, rather than celebrated. It serves as a reminder of the cost of war. By the end of the Gallipoli campaign, more than 130,000 lives were lost. I think this is an incredibly difficult thing to comprehend.
Psychologist Paul Slovic says, “Statistics are just human beings with the tears dried off. And that’s dangerous because we need the tears to motivate us.” To even begin to wrap your head around the terrible human toll of ANZAC day, we must engage in slow and deliberate reflection, understanding that the number 102 000 is more than just a statistic, but the efforts of the courage, comradery and endurance of an extraordinary amount of people who died too young. It is important for us to acknowledge Anzac Day and remember those who suffered the horrors of war, as people rather than statistics. We must also remember those who still suffer its effects today. In continuing to empathise with, and humanise the hardships of the ANZACs, we reinforce the notion that their deaths were not in vain.”
Constance concluded the Assembly with these words. “Acknowledging how such a horrific event has shaped and changed our national identity has become a pivotal part of describing who Australians are. I reflect on and recognise the hardships of those who served, faced both on the frontline and behind the scenes. And I pay tribute to all those who serve, whether it was 100 years ago or today.
I recognise that Australian history and its people are intrinsically linked to one another through this day, a day that brings our nation together each year on 25 April. We pay tribute to those across time who have fought and served our country past and present, including those operating in The Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Australian navy.
Anzac Day is a day to remember the strength and resilience of the human spirit rather than a day of mourning. Central themes intrinsic to Australian identity, such as mateship, have powerful origins derived from the Gallipoli trenches and it is themes such as these that I believe are most important when celebrating Anzac Day. For it is a time to remember, reflect and thank those who have served our country.”
Lest we forget.