Lest We Forget – ANZAC Day

2020 04 25 anzac day postThank you for joining us today in paying your respects to all of those people who have served in our Defence Forces and peacekeeping forces. To those who perished on the battlefields, those who returned home wounded and psychologically shattered, and all those people who have served in some way - ensuring that we could live in a nation of freedom and liberty.

ANZAC Day, a national day of remembrance, was created following the landing at Gallipoli in Turkey by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps on April 25 1915. This was our nation’s first major military conflict and it is said that a part of our national identity was forged by the tenacity and bravery of our soldiers.

A dawn service was first held on April 25 1916 in France, based on the early morning timing when the ANZAC’s charged onto ANZAC Cove. That same year the first commemorative march was staged through the streets of Brisbane.

We can thank Chaplain Lieutenant-Colonel Canon David Garland OBE for the creation of ANZAC Day. He was a man on a mission. Leading up to World War One he successfully advocated for religious education in schools. He first became an Army chaplain when Australia sent troops to the Boer War in 1896 and continued in that role ‘til 1902. In 1915 he was appointed Senior Chaplain to the Queensland troops being sent overseas to fight and given an honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Garland wanted to make life better for the soldiers when he joined them in the Middle East in 1917 and he was active in setting up clubs where they could relax rather than going to pubs. He also wanted to honour their feats. He raised funds for memorials to honour the fallen and in 1916 he was part of an organisation which endorsed April 25 as ANZAC Day. He was given the task of creating the format for the day as an interdenominational service. He also initiated the ANZAC Day march, the wreath laying ceremony and the two minutes silence. Later on, he lobbied for ANZAC Day to become a national holiday and this was achieved in 1930.

Unfortunately, when the troops returned home in 1919 they weren’t able to take part in marches because of the global influenza epidemic which prevented people assembling in large numbers. The Sydney parade was cancelled although a service was held in the Domain – with people wearing masks and standing three feet apart. Sound familiar?!

It is traditional on ANZAC Day to wear a sprig of rosemary – the plant grew wild all over the Gallipoli Peninsula – or a red poppy as these were among the first to flower in the battlefields of Europe after World War One.