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WWI cen­te­nary brought us to­gether to pay our re­spects

The West Australian - - OPINION -

he of­fi­cial Aus­tralian his­to­rian of World War I, Charles Bean, an elo­quent writer as well as a foren­sic re­searcher, summed up the Dig­gers’ story thus: “What­ever of glory it con­tains noth­ing now can lessen. It rises, as it will al­ways rise, above the mists of ages, a mon­u­ment to great-hearted men; and, for their na­tion, a pos­ses­sion for ever.”

The war was a defin­ing mo­ment for Aus­tralia, still a young na­tion when it sent men off to bat­tles on the rocky hills of Gal­lipoli, sands of the Mid­dle East and the bleak muddy trenches that criss-crossed west­ern Eu­rope.

The men, ini­tially un­tried and untested vol­un­teers, quickly re­vealed stores of de­ter­mi­na­tion, val­our and loy­alty which be­came known as the An­zac spirit.

It is a spirit which has not only been handed down by Aus­tralian ser­vice­men and women ever since, but is now held up as a na­tional char­ac­ter­is­tic to which we at­tach great sig­nif­i­cance.

It is how we like to see our­selves.

For four years, this news­pa­per has com­mem­o­rated the cen­te­nary of that ter­ri­ble con­flict. To­mor­row that pe­riod comes to an end with the cen­te­nary of the armistice that brought a halt to the fight­ing.

At a time when too of­ten we fo­cus on what di­vides us, pay­ing our re­spects to the deeds of the An­zacs brought us to­gether as a na­tion. Com­mu­ni­ties united. Towns, res­i­dents’ groups, schools and fam­i­lies re­flected on the An­zac legacy, work­ing to­gether to spruce up memo­ri­als, up­grade hon­our boards and re­search long-for­got­ten fam­ily his­to­ries.

The com­mem­o­ra­tion and re­flec­tion in­tro­duced new gen­er­a­tions of Aus­tralians to the An­zac story. That in­ter­est must now turn to our in­volve­ment in other con­flicts down the ages to en­sure on­go­ing re­spect for all who serve this coun­try in uni­form. As the Re­turned and Ser­vices League re­minds us, the price of lib­erty is eter­nal vig­i­lance.

Lest we for­get. Signed Al­ston prints are avail­able, framed or un­framed, from or by phon­ing 9482 2378.

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