On April 25, 1915, the pre-dawn stillness on Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula was shattered by the crack of gunfire as a combined force of First Australian Imperial Force and New Zealand Army soldiers – known as “ANZACs” – stepped bravely into battle.
This was the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. Since then, “Anzac Day” has been observed in Australia and New Zealand on every April 25th in order to remember the sacrifice made by those who died during military operations.
Here, four veterans of Australia’s armed forces consider the enduring importance of this annual day of remembrance and explain why it retains such significant meaning for both Australia and New Zealand.
Moises Benedictos – Information Security Manager
Anzac Day, for me, is the one day of the year where I feel beyond proud and honoured to be an Australian and to have contributed to our a very worthy and important cause in the Middle East during 2003-2004 and 2008.
In my 21 years in the Royal Australian Air Force, I have had the privilege of commemorating Anzac Day in far flung locations such as the UAE and Singapore. But my most memorable and the one that touched me the most would have to be Anzac Day in Baghdad in 2004, where I had the honour of spending breakfast with the then Chief of Air Force, Angus Houston, one to one. It was also, an opportunity to show to our coalition partner in the Middle East Area of Operations, the United States, our genuine and deep respect for that special day of the year.
I personally hope that by being a part of the commemoration of Anzac Day year to year, I am able to contribute to bridging the generations to continue this very significant tradition for many generations to come.
Lastly, I would like to say that Anzac Day holds a special place in me and that every time the Last Post is played during the Dawn Service, I cannot help but experience a surge of emotion throughout my whole being.
Lest we forget
Peter O’Brien – Cyber Governance, Risk and Compliance Consultant
Australians and New Zealanders hold Anzac Day dear. It is not simply a commemoration of landings at Gallipoli in 1915, but a chance to reflect on, acknowledge and actively support the men and women (and their families) of the Australian Defence Force and New Zealand Defence Force who have served, given their lives in service, or are currently serving Australia’s interests on active operations away from family and friends.
Whilst in the Royal Australian Navy, I had the privilege of attending and participating in Anzac Day dawn services in Australian cities and towns, as well as in New Zealand. As Anzac Day is observed by Australia and New Zealand, this joint commemoration serves as a bond between our two nations that have served alongside each other at Gallipoli, and in operations up to today.
The family and friends of those that have served, and sacrificed their lives, remember the sacrifices of their mates every day, not just on Anzac Day. What Anzac Day provides us with is the opportunity to come together (or on our driveways), and collectively set aside this time as a nation to let our current and former servicemen and women know that their sacrifices and duty will always be recognised and supported.
Lest we forget
Eamon O’Connor – Cyber Technical Consultant
What a year we’ve had. I would say that the 25th of April 2021 looks like it’s heading in the direction of normality for Anzac day. Last year I was still in the Australian Army and celebrated Anzac day at the edge of my driveway under Covid lockdown. And the more I think about it, the more I realise that I’ve never really had a normal Anzac day.
The year before that I was in bed recovering from back surgery. I’ve been at an Anzac dawn service whilst on deployment to the Middle East, I’ve marched through several Australian cities and small towns on parade.
I started with BAE Systems Applied Intelligence two months ago. This is the first time in 11 years that I won’t be attending as a serving member of the Australian Defence Force. So once again, it doesn’t feel normal.
And I don’t think it should ever feel normal. It certainly doesn’t commemorate anything normal. We’re remembering brave men and women from Australia, New Zealand, and also around the world, who gave everything they could, including their lives, in service of their friends, families, neighbors and complete strangers.
So no, it won’t be a normal Anzac day this year. Nor should it ever be.
Lest we forget
Keith Eade – Cyber Security Consultant
I was lucky enough to serve for 17 years with the Australian Army. It has shaped my core beliefs and made me the person I am today. A large part of that has to do with the history of our defence force.
My typical Anzac Day would start before the sun. My mates and I would rush around getting into service dress before going down for our ‘gunfire breakfast’ followed by our local Dawn Service. During this part of the day we reflect on the sacrifices of our fallen brothers and sisters that gave us the future we are now lucky enough to be living.
We would join a local memorial hosted by our local Return Services League (RSL), either as part of the catafalque party or just attending. And then we would walk with ex-serving members down to the RSL: beers were had, stories were told and cards were played. As new army members we wanted to learn the history from the older vets.
This was a healing time for many. Veterans were able to share first hand their experiences, almost as if a little bit of the burden was removed from their shoulders as they impart their stories. This gave the history we learnt extra meaning; no longer just words on a page but reality. It was very humbling. Tears and laughter – a bittersweet time.
Though I am no longer a full time serving member, I will still continue to be a part of this day. Just my roles have changed. I am now a veteran myself. Let the cycle continue, our history will not die.
Lest we forget