WWI centenary brought us together to pay our respects
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.