It's time to be 'guardians'

The Goondiwindi Regional Mayor, Cr Lawrence Springborg AM gave a moving speech at the Anzac Day March service on Sunday. He called on all Australians to be the "guardians" of the Anzac legacy:

GRC Mayor, Cr Lawrence Springborg AM

GRC Mayor, Cr Lawrence Springborg AM

The character of a nation and the collective identity of her citizens are defined by many things, the origins and background of her people, their experiences, their values, their aspirations and their motivations.

When I was a youngster attending school in Yelarbon, Anzac Day, had little relevance to me, or my fellow students. It was barely mentioned in school, not very much within the community and when it was, it was in the context of a day that old soldiers came together to march, have a few beers and lunch together, sometimes, but not always with their families.

As I clearly understand it today, the reason for this, grew out of the social revolution of the 1960s and a response to our involvement in the Vietnam war, which saw brave service men and women who simply did their duty as required by their country, treated disrespectfully and marginalised for many years.

Our wartime record was a matter of polarised view and our involvement on the battlefields was analysed and criticised through the lens of contemporary revisionism not in the context of the realities of the times. This tumultuous era acted as a twenty-year handbrake on the proper paying of respect and denied many Australians, including young Australians such as myself the opportunity to appreciate and revere the sacrifice and contribution of so many who have given me and generations of Australians so much. It sounds incomprehensible, but The ANZAC Day services we commemorate today, with enormous crowds and universal solemn respect have not always been. It is hard to believe.

I am so proud of the fact that for my children and for the countless young citizens here today and for the duration of my adult life, ANZAC Day has enjoyed the most deserving renaissance of awareness, discovery, connection and appreciation. And like the classical European renaissance, which heralded a new era of understanding and modernity, so it is for ANZAC Day.

At its foundation, Anzac Day signifies a defining moment 106 years ago this morning when thousands of young men from Australia and New Zealand charged ashore at Gallipoli against a formidable and as we now know, noble foe in the Turks on the wrong beach, for what would become a fruitless campaign, an ingenious withdrawal and 8000 of our fellows dead. From this futility, spirits strengthened, tenacity grew into hope, character was defined and a new nation was underpinned.It is somewhat ironic, that out of one of our greatest military failures we have gained such strength, character, national identity and pride.

This day has come to define the reverence we have for our servicemen and women. It gives us a collective umbrella of appreciation to celebrate the efforts of hundreds of thousands, that have done the same in different theatres of conflict and peace keeping roles in the decades after. It also provides us the shared connection to mourn the loss of so many souls who gave everything for us and now we hold them in a constant aura of esteem, where they are chiselled deeply into our memories and our psyche, where we can never know their names individually, but we feel as we know them intimately.

We will never know their fears. We will never know their hopes. We will never know their dreams. But we will always know that they fought for us. We will always know that they protected us. We will always know that they died for us. And as they have done so much for us, in turning out for them once a year, it seems so insignificant in comparison. We gather in absolute safety, cloaked not only in warm coats on a frosty morning, but the cloak of protection that their sacrifice has given. They fought against great tyranny, even if they did not truly know its meaning. They stood up against those that subjugated and persecuted others because of their beliefs. They created a barrier against those who did not want voices heard, unless they were in unison.

Just, as they have been, are now and always will be our guardians, by their legacy, it's is our time, to be their guardians. To protect their memories. To protect the legacy of freedom, in all its facets that they have given us and above all else, to protect their sacrifice by never ever forgetting.