This week we have our Anzac Day service on Wednesday morning at the flag pole (weather permitting). There are a number of interesting peculiarities to what is, in effect, our national day.
Firstly, we appear to celebrate a military defeat (in itself rather unusual). But we actually celebrate the forging of our nation. Whereas the various Australian colonies had sent troops to various Imperial wars the Sudan, the Maori Wars, the Boer War – this was the first time Australians had fought as a single nation. Whatever one’s views of war itself, there is little doubt that Gallipoli was a key event in creating a national consciousness among what had been six separate sovereign colonies.
Another oddity of Anzac Day, which an English friend commented on, was the apparent lack of official organisation. She was deeply struck at Martin Place, at the fact that there was very little official marshalling or presence. It was amateur in the best sense of that word, unregulated but well-organised.
Another strange aspect is we share our national day with another nation New Zealand.
And lastly, the heart of the celebration is over by dawn. If you sleep in you can be largely unaware that hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, across Australia and New Zealand and at Gallipoli itself, have stood together until sunrise honouring those who have made the supreme sacrifice.
As part of our celebration each year 6th class, with Mrs Allcorn’s guidance, seeks to capture something of the Anzac spirit in a group artwork, which is then entered into the Art Competition run by the Gallipoli Club of NSW. The judges often select our painting to be hung among the finalists, and the children are invited to the final judging.