On this Anzac Day, 2017, is this a question you would consider? What has Anzac Day become and what does it mean to us as individuals and as a nation?
Let’s take a moment to reflect. Is it a day of national pride and celebration of our nationalistic spirit and identity or is it a day of solemn reflection and of paying respect to all those who have served? Or is it a day that can be both?
On Wednesday I attended Corporate Club Australia’s April Networking breakfast and this challenge was put to us by the Commander of the Australian Fleet, Rear Admiral Stuart Mayer, AO CSC & Bar.
To have these two elements play alongside each other can be difficult, especially today as many of those who march are not just remembering those who have served but are marching with their own stories, many with physical and mental wounds from their service. The vast crowds who now participate in ANZAC day ceremonies draw strength from their service and continue to sustain the ANZAC legacy that we can be so proud of as a country.
The Admiral reflected that, on ANZAC Day, we must seek to find a balance when giving consideration to a number of factors – from our commitment to never forget those who have served, to those who have returned scarred, to those who perished and to the families and organisations who, in supporting them, have endured their own special suffering. He described how, on balance, we must also acknowledge what the ANZAC spirit says about the character of being Australian, the stories that tell us who we are, and perhaps who we can be.
The ANZAC spirit that is free and fiercely independent, triumphs against the odds, has courage and demonstrates ingenuity in adversity, has and continues to shape our definition of what it is to be an Australian.
As I listened to the Admiral it made me think of my own ANZAC Days, some watching my husband march as a returned serviceman and as a current member of the Australian Defence Force, but the majority spent alone or with our children watching our friends as he was deployed or away for operational commitments. In fact in 20 years of marriage we have only been together on ANZAC Day for seven of those years.
For me ANZAC Day is a day of three parts combining the elements that the Admiral reflected upon: the very moving and emotional dawn service when we remember the them; the ANZAC parade where I burst with pride and say thank you for the service to all who have served, past and present; and, the afternoon, being with family and friends and remembering at a very personal level their military service.
No matter how you chose to spend ANZAC Day I ask you at some stage to stop, pause for thought, and join with the nation as we remember them.
Written by Nicole Quinn, Director Parker & Partners