What our leaders have to say about a different Anzac Day

Llew O’Brien

Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien
Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien

LIKE most Australians, I have attended many Anzac Day services throughout my life, and this Anzac Day is so different to any other that has been before.

While this year we will not be gathering to bow our heads at the local cenotaph, or attending gunfire breakfasts at the RSL, this does not diminish the solemnity of Anzac Day and our respect for all who have served and continue to serve.

We will still remember the sacrifice of those who gave so much for us at Gallipoli and on many fronts – just as we ourselves make our own smaller sacrifices to protect Australian lives while we face this terrible virus.

This year, a Dawn Service will be broadcast across Australia from the Australian War Memorial.

The coverage of the commemorative service will take place at the Australian War Memorial on Anzac Day, 25 April 2020, with the ABC starting pre-service coverage from 5am AEST, with the service broadcast live from the Commemorative Area and Hall of Memory from 5.30am AEST.

While we need to physically stay apart, I commend the Australian War Memorial staff for connecting us this way so we can commemorate and reflect on the courage, and bravery, honour, valour and sacrifice of the Anzacs who helped to secure our freedom – and shape the course of our nation.

Nine year old Adelayde Zahner pays her respects to our fallen heroes – Picture: Shane Zahner
Nine year old Adelayde Zahner pays her respects to our fallen heroes – Picture: Shane Zahner

We stand in awe of the dedication and service of our Anzac heroes. And it is their spirit, who the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, acknowledged that we are summoning now, to get us through this very difficult and troubling time.

Their service gives us cause to deeply reflect on the meaning of Anzac Day. We all remember with gratitude the sacrifices made by our first Anzacs, as well as the efforts of servicemen and women in the time since then, who continue to serve our country, risking their lives to keep Australia safe, and securing peace and freedom around the world.

More than 50,000 Australians are estimated to have fought at Gallipoli, where some 8,700 lost their lives and almost 18,000 were wounded. Our nation owes an enormous debt to these Australians, whose courage, determination and bravery have become part of the Australian way.

Anzac Day commemorations help younger Australians to gain a deeper appreciation of our wartime history, and the role that war has played in shaping our nation. I hope that all young Australians learn the Anzac story and pass it onto to future generations.

This year, 2020, Australia marks 75 years since victory in the Pacific and the end of World War II.

75 years ago, across Australia, crowds gathered in the thousands – in cities and towns – to celebrate the end of the conflict and to commemorate the men and women who served so bravely.

For many in Australia the end of the war in the Pacific was marked by celebration. For others it was a day of sombre commemoration and relief. For those who had lost loved ones, the cost was high – almost 40,000 Australians had been killed out of around one million who had served.

This year we also mark the 105th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign. In the fire of battle they forged the Anzac spirit which endures in the bravery of the Australian Defence Force to this day.

Fifty years ago, Australia began to wind down its military effort in Vietnam with the departure of the 8th Battalion.

For those who served in the Second World War, I thank you for your service and all you did to protect our shores. And I pay tribute to the contributions of all defence personnel, in the Army, Navy and Air Force, who have served in war, conflicts and peace keeping operations, who for more than a century have done our nation proud.

As we pause, reflect and remember those who have served and those who have given their lives for our country, we recall the three words which mean so much and we will forever remember.

Lest We Forget.

Llew O’Brien, Wide Bay MP

Tony Perrett

Tony Perrett
Tony Perrett

A time to reflect

TODAY’S Anzac Day commemorations will be different to any other experienced before. There will be no parades, no Dawn Services, no wreath laying ceremonies, no toasts to the fallen, no catch ups and gatherings. No school services.

The rituals may have changed but that should not diminish our efforts to fulfil our duty and honour those who fought to protect our way of life.

In many ways when Gympie locals stand in silence in their driveways, on their verandas, at their doorways, they will continue to demonstrate how much they value the service given by our defence personnel over so many years. They will be part of a cohort of proud Queenslanders and Australians using their ingenuity to make sure that restrictions will not prevent them from observing this sombre and important day in our calendar.

Today is about remembering the sacrifice of those who have served and are still serving.

It puts into perspective our own less significant inconveniences during this current pandemic.

We have heard the words unprecedented and uncertain times to describe current events. How much more unprecedented and uncertain were the times of war when our service men and women sacrificed so much and risked their lives to guarantee our freedoms and keep Australia safe?

Today we celebrate the qualities of loyalty, duty, honour, self-sacrifice, courage, doing your best, determination, fortitude, and resilience.

The Anzac reputation was forged in the Gallipoli campaign,105 years ago. Since then there has been an endless list of battles, conflicts and peace keeping operations with which so many families have personal connections. Australians went from Gallipoli to the fields of Europe in World War 1, then to the battles in Europe, Africa and the Pacific in World War II which ended 75 years ago. It is 70 years since men and women headed to the Korean War, almost 60 years to the Vietnam War, 30 years since the First Gulf War, and almost 20 years since the onset of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Year after year attendances at services across the region have burst with locals honouring those defence personnel. While the events this year will be different the sentiment remains, and there will always be more Anzac Days.

Lest we Forget.

Tony Perrett,

Gympie MP

Glen Hartwig

Glen Hartwig, Gympie Mayor
Glen Hartwig, Gympie Mayor

ANZAC spirit will shine through

THIS year’s Anzac Day certainly has a different feel, not only in our region, but indeed, all over the world.

As people in our community move throughout their day, they will not be able to participate in a parade or gather at a dawn service.

Our veteran community will not be able to share a quiet beer together at the RSL like in years past.

Members of our community who take so much pride in wearing their relatives’ medals and marching on their behalf in any number of parades around our region, will not have the opportunity to do that this year.

While this is disappointing, Anzac Day is much more than a series of services and parades. While these are important, the true Anzac spirit exists within our minds and hearts.

While I share in your disappointment of not being able to attend a service in person, I have no doubt the Anzac virtues of courage, mateship and service will be remembered, along with the men and women who have contributed so much to our national identity.

In my opinion the ability for us to adapt to a changing situation like COVID-19 and overcome the various challenges associated with it, is a true reflection of our Anzac spirit which has been so bravely instilled in us by those men and women who have, and are currently, serving in the defence of our nation.

We must also remember the Gympie region is steeped in Anzac tradition.

A drive past or walk through our Memorial Lane in Mary Street, for example, will show you hundreds if not thousands of local names who have sacrificed it all for us.

It is this sacrifice which is remembered today.

I hope you can all mark this occasion in a safe and respectful way.

Lest we forget.

Glen Hartwig,

Gympie Mayor