ANZAC Day is a very special and important one to Australians. It is a day where all Australians can come together to honour and remember the ANZACs who fought and died for our country. Most importantly, it is a chance for all Australians to reflect on the spirit of the ANZAC. But, what is this spirit? How did it come about? And why, more than 90 years after Gallipoli, do Australians continue to remember and embrace this ANZAC spirit with such pride and honour?
For the young nation of Australia, World War I was the first important test on the world stage. It was Australia’s chance to prove themselves worthy and equal of all the other nations in the world. The task of going and fighting at Gallipoli was one that was met with great enthusiasm by young Australian men, and thousands enlisted. All had an immense desire to fight under the Empire, and become a part of Britain’s glorious military history.
Western Australia felt a special association with the war because the convoy of vessels carrying the first Australian and New Zealand troops to go overseas assembled and left Australia from King George Sound. For many of the men on board these ships, Albany was their last sight of Australia. West Australian soldiers also played a special and important role at Gallipoli. West Australian bushmen who were chosen for the 10th Light Horse Regiment were placed, along with other Australian soldiers, at an open area of ground known as the Nek. They were ordered to attack. This was to distract the Turks away from the British, who were planning a landing several kilometers to the north. As they leapt from the trenches, the men knew their fate; they were heading for an almost certain death. But none were willing to let down their mates or their country.
The Australian soldiers had an incredible determination and zest for life. These ANZACs fought as they lived – bravely, openly and independently. They continuously displayed an immense amount of courage and compassion. But above all, the ANZACs valued mateship. This quality was so important to the ANZACs that a man would die for his mates.
These qualities of bravery, compassion, loyalty, mateship, endurance and self-sacrifice were never more evident than in the legend of Simpson and his donkey. Simpson tirelessly rescued dozens of men on his donkey, bravely walking through shellfire, to rescue his fellow ANZACs. In total, he rescued about 300 men, calmly taking them to safety, until he was shot by Turkish gunfire on 19 May 1915. Simpson is a man who Australians remember for his courage and compassion, rather than his skills with a weapon. He is the epitome of the ANZAC spirit that we remember today.
It is this courage and compassion which we remember each ANZAC Day. The qualities that the ANZACs showed at Gallipoli have become known as the ANZAC spirit, and this spirit is etched forever in the nation of Australia, and the hearts of Australians. We all like to believe their qualities are instilled in us, as Australians. ANZAC Day is a time for us to pay tribute to these brave men, who fought and died for our country, so that future generations like mine could live in freedom. This extraordinary act of self-sacrifice is remembered every year, when we take the time to pay our respect and say thank you for the freedom that we have today.
ANZAC Day, with the trumpet playing the “Last Post”, the reading of the Ode, and the one minute’s silence, gives me the chance to reflect on the Spirit of the ANZAC, and what it means for Australia. Many people argue that it was Gallipoli, rather than Federation, that really unified Australia as a nation. When soldiers from all over the country went to fight together at Gallipoli, a common bond was formed. Every Australian back home felt immense pride in the young soldiers who showed such amazing