The importance of remembering – Camp Gallipoli
It is 5am with rain in the air across Melbourne, as the bugle sounds and I drag myself up from the sleeping bag. All around me six thousand men, women, children and school parties are doing likewise. The previous night these people were complete strangers, but we awake with a common purpose.
Why are we here in the Showgrounds? What are we doing?
For me, the answer lies in the sleeping form of my 7 year old son just stirring next to me. This will be his first Dawn Service and it has been his first time sleeping under the stars. Camp Gallipoli has provided him with the opportunity to see first hand the ANZAC spirit at the 100th anniversary and apply his primary school history education. Stories of donkeys, biscuits, beaches and coves in far off lands, are all the more real in this environment. We have the rain, the mud, the camaraderie, the food; but nothing can (or should) replicate the mateship, squalor and fear faced by our compatriots a century earlier.
It is so important for our communities and younger generations to understand how our national identity has developed and how significant events in our history, both good and bad, have shaped the culture we have today. Remembrance is an essential public value, one that ensures the narrative of our history lives on, providing everyone with an understanding of where we have come from, the mistakes we have made as a country, the successes we have had and the resilience we have shown that has allowed us to continue punching above our weight on the world stage.
Anzac Day is one of the key turning points in Australia’s history and a fundamental part of our narrative as a country. It was a time when we showed courage, fortitude, mateship and resilience in the face of almost certain defeat, characteristics that have lived on in many facets of Australian life since. Camp Gallipoli encourages families and school communities to come together to honour those who have fallen and ensure the Anzac spirit lives on, by educating and reinforcing the ANZAC values to young Australians and New Zealanders, helping them understand who we are.
The rain, bitter and cold only an hour before, stops for the 6am dawn service. Whilst no match for the Shrine of Remembrance or the events taking place in Gallipoli a few hours later, it was still moving to sing the national anthems and the hymn Abide with Me, conduct a minutes silence and reflect as a bugler played the Last Post.
At its conclusion, we are asked to shake our neighbour’s hand and wish them a great day. Whilst there is little to be gained from celebrating the horror of war, this whole experience has at least shown my son what was being fought for… freedom and the values upon which this country was built.
Did you attend any ANZAC Day events? Please share your thoughts and reflections below.
Camp Gallipoli has been fully endorsed by the Anzac centenary committee, The Federal Education Department, RSL and Legacy. It supports the RSL and Legacy in recognition of their great support, leadership and service.