“They were as good as they could be in their time; now, let us be as good as we can be in ours.” – Tony Abbott, Gallipoli, 2015
ANZAC Day stirs the emotions like no other day. It’s very special in our family with a history of service men and women, and I find myself in deep reflection about many things.
Wars and devastating periods of history can build bonds between strangers, and on a day like Anzac Day, it’s suddenly perfectly ok, to smile and talk, share openly our thoughts, our feelings, our sadness with unfamiliar faces. The same faces who on other days may cause you to avert your eyes, ignore completely or look busy doing something else: rendering both of you invisible.
What a difference, on April 25 in Australia, wearing a sprig of rosemary or medals on your chest makes. It unconsciously gives permission to anyone around you that you may be approached by, or approach, a stranger.
You are literally wearing an invitation to connect, saying: ‘I have the Anzac Spirit too’.
It’s ok to talk to strangers.
It’s ok to acknowledge the service of our military men, women and families, with strangers. It’s expected.
Our national grief is shared, our reverence of the service and sacrifice rendered, mutually acknowledged.
We stand shoulder to shoulder in community, as one.
As our Prime Minister Tony Abbott said, in his speech at Gallipoli this year which marked the centenary of the ANZAC’s landing on the legendary beachfront: “They were as good as they could be in their time; now, let us be as good as we can be in ours.”
Anzac Day is not just one day to celebrate, to acknowledge, to grieve together, but to give us a hint of what is possible, what life can be like when we’re more aware of those around us.
We can stand shoulder to shoulder with those same strangers on any given day of the year. In fact we do. We have abundant daily experiences in common.
The little old lady that you see in the street on Anzac Day wearing medals to display her service, or the service of those loved by her, those who loved her is also revealing she has loved and lost, but we might also see that lady around our community at other times, without the medals, and pass her by in the street everyday with no acknowledgement.
We can take some learning from this Anzac weekend to acknowledge and cheer on those in our community.
We already know that every human being has a story of love and loss, and endeavour, of perseverance or courage. We’ve all had brave moments and we’ve all known fear.
When Grandad was interviewed by the Sunday Telegraph, making our family extremely proud and grateful, he made a comment about a previous newspaper article on him, with the headline referring to him as a ‘hero’. “I’m not a hero!” he exclaimed with a laugh, “I was frightened!”
Aren’t we all, at one time or another?
We are all survivors or returnees of our own personal battles and though there is no national day or awareness, when the population wakes up to our inner anguish to pay respects to it, it actually can.
In the little moments of connection, where just for a split second we acknowledge another person for just being there, for sharing a moment with us in some way perhaps as we pass in the street making eye contact and saying hello or waiting in a line together or sharing a seat on the train or bus.
I imagine you’ve had your own profound moments over the weekend but as we reflect on the meaning of this significant national day, it’s not just one day to celebrate, to acknowledge or to grieve together but an opportunity to commit to being as a good as we can be in our time, as the Anzac’s were in theirs.
Are you with me? Please share, reach out, connect with people around you today. The joy of connecting is on the other side of the momentary uncertainty and awkwardness.
Cheering you on,