The Gallipoli landings on this day in 1915 were a military disaster. A politician’s decision resulting in a heavy loss of life. Sound familiar?
But Anzac Day is not about the leaders. As people, we carry on in spite of the muddling and meddling of our politicians.
Anzac Day is about the soldiers and their families. Young men and women fighting in impossible conditions. People confronting death, but staying strong.
Anzac Day commemorates Australians (and New Zealanders) giving their lives for a cause; helping each other, standing their ground, showing ingenuity and courage.
This is why Anzac Day is important. It reminds us that Australians are a tough breed, that we look after each other and that we fight and fight and fight regardless of the risks to ourselves. A resounding determination not to be broken by insuperable odds.
Today Australians are engaged in a struggle against a pernicious enemy. While our current situation cannot be compared to the First World War, we can still see evidence of the Anzac spirit. People helping each other despite their own difficulties. Courtesy shown to workers under stress. Healthcare professionals confronting the virus on a daily basis.
We have also seen an ugly Australian. Hoarding of household goods, disregard for social distancing and disrespect for authorities.
My eldest son, a physiotherapist, is responsible for the Covid recovery ward in one of our major hospitals. Each day he dons his PPE and assists Covid patients released from ICU. To minimise risk, he is the only health practitioner on the ward, besides doctors and nurses. He receives remote assistance from other healthcare practitioners.
His partner assists Covid patients in ICU.
My second son is in his final year of Medicine working in Hospitals in Melbourne’s East. He may be called to assist if the rate of infection gets out of hand.
My third son is a part time assistant store manager for one of the two large grocery chains.
As a father blessed with four sons I have always harboured a fear of them being called to serve their country in time of war. In 2020, there is no war, but three of my boys are on the frontline.
While my wife and I are extremely proud of all our sons we remain fearful nonetheless.
This is my story.
We all have a story. We all harbour fears at this time.
My life motto is drawn from the Australian poet Adam Lindsay Gordon. In about 1870, he wrote the following
Life is mainly froth and bubble
Two things stand like stone
Kindness in another’s trouble.
Courage in your own
(Ye Wearie Wayfarer)
These lines used to be recited in Australian primary schools at the beginning of each day. Perhaps we should resume that practice.
Stay safe and well. Look after each other.
Lest we forget.