I didn’t know what the ANZAC was where I was born.
The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
I didn’t realise until the first April came around and I was spending my first school year in Australia and suddenly…older men in uniforms would visit with their decorated boxes to our classrooms and staff rooms to offer us a red flower.
A flower that wasn’t native at all to where I was born and I had never seen a real one. Since they were kind, I used the $2 my parents had given me and bought I myself a poppy, not really quite realising why they were dressed as soldiers and the relationship to the poppy.
Being quite historically-inclined, while I normally dove into Egyptian and Roman history (thank you, local library!) I took some time to ask about the ANZAC and found a couple of books on it. I was no stranger to the stories of war, the world wars and the sacrifices of the soldiers, my birth country was involved after all and my family had military history connected the world wars.
I just didn’t know the Australian war stories and learning about the ANZAC was my first time exploring it.
The first thing that struck me was their doomed fate. Many of these men, some so young and even underaged, eager to serve and help under the Commonwealth…had been outwitted by the Turkish forces and had willingly sailed to their doom on those shores, unaware.
The ANZAC story is a unique one when it comes to war stories, simply most battles had the element of strategy, some of the unknown and a fighting chance of winning. The ANZACs had basically been defeated the moment they arrived due to their spoiled plans and that was what really broke my heart. It didn’t take too long for the men to realise they were cornered and didn’t have much hope – how do you cope with that?
How do you stand there on the shores of Gallipolli, under constant attack with no way to success or safety, playing roulette with your life everyday and not knowing when it would end?
For a young man to be having those thoughts in his head, trying to focus instead on a future that could be, that he’d grow up, be honourable, do something he loved or have a family too, I can’t imagine.
Many of these men never came home. Thus, ANZAC Day is for them, their bravery, the way they looked fear in the eye and did the best they could with courage and dignity. It’s a monument to the human resilience when one perseveres despite knowing there were no odds. I think it speaks to the sacrifices many men make in the armed forces since the start of time – it’s always expected and assumed that men’s lives are more disposable to battles and war, to protect their loved ones. Remembrance days like these honour them with the credit they deserve and it must continue.
While many women and even animals also made contributions to the armed forces (to which they deserve our thanks), a vast majority, from the start of time of any armed forces and soldiers were men, who fought to defend and protect, giving away their most precious thing – their life. They fought for us and gave literally everything to do so, even all of themselves. You see it time and again in history.
On this special day, let us honour the ANZACs and never forget these brave troops who made such a great sacrifice.
Lest we forget.