In our fast-paced modern world, with the 24-hour media cycle, incessant social media buzz, and short attention spans, it’s easy to forget the unique lifestyle and freedoms we enjoy in Australia have been developed and protected at great cost.
Next Tuesday, April 25, is Anzac Day. It is a day to reflect on the immense sacrifices made by Australian defence forces over more than a century of service to our country.
Almost 103,000 Australians have made the ultimate sacrifice defending the freedoms we all enjoy today.
Each year, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs encourages Australians to reflect especially on particular themes or anniversaries from our wartime history.
In 2017, we commemorate the centenary of the Flanders Offensive in World War I.
In mid-1917, British Commander-in-Chief Douglas Haig launched a widespread offensive in Belgium. The fighting began at the end of July, with a series of battles continuing until November.
In one battle alone, at Polygon Wood, the Australian contingent suffered almost 11,000 casualties in just one week.
The fighting was fierce, the constant rain created horrendous conditions for the infantry, and the number of men wounded and killed was truly horrific.
But through it all the Anzacs acquitted themselves as well as any soldiers could, fighting with bravery and skill despite the appalling conditions.
The bravery and skills of the Anzacs did not go unnoticed, with one British officer telling Australian war historian Charles Bean: “We were next to the Anzacs, splendid fellows…all the time the Anzac guns kept on firing away, and we wondered how they could do it – how on earth they weren’t blown to blazes. Right in the thick of it you would see them firing every time”.
I hope you will join me in attending one of the many Anzac Day ceremonies that will be held across the Mid-North Coast to remember the sacrifice of the Anzacs.
Lest we forget.