Br Mansford’s 2019 ANZAC Day Address
Tomorrow, Australia and New Zealand pause to honour their fallen. In doing so, we reflect on a young nation in its baptism of fire on beach named Gallipoli. At such gatherings as these, we are not glorifying war, on the contrary, condemning it, and emphasising that war is always the last desperate option after all else has failed.
What we do today is to honour the spirit and remind ourselves of how it came to be, from its origins during colonial days.
It was forged and tempered in tough, challenging times which helped to develop many strong characteristics within its people, including resilience, confidence, mateship and a clear sense of purpose. Such characteristic became part of a most powerful tool in cementing our national spirit.
The spirit we speak of was clearly evident in an army hastily formed throughout our vast land with volunteers from all walks of life; butchers, bakers, shearers, drovers, nurses and many more.
A short time later, the world came to know of a new term , ANZAC; created when this newly formed army with little military training stormed ashore at Gallipoli and our young torch burned brighter. At Gallipoli, our troops demonstrated and reinforced the character and nature of our infant nation for the entire world to see. So many precious qualities within a fiery spirit were evident. It was a spirit that embraced the belief in freedom, unity and mateship which was the very heart and pulse beat of our nation.
Two decades later, the sons and daughters of ANZACS stepped forward to serve in WW2 and fight a new threat to our way of life. Subsequent generations have followed in many other areas of operations. Today, we honour all of them, men and women who gave all to defend our security and freedom.
The question is; how best should you honour them?
The ANZACS would want you to read our history, so you have an understanding of who we were and are today. It will further provide an understanding of the hardships that past generations endured which made them so resilient, proud and united with a common sense of purpose.
In our way of life there is a precious value called free speech and it is yours to speak your mind. However, if you step over the boundaries and prevent others from voicing views, particularly with intimidation or violence; you have prostituted and threatened the very base of our way of life.
In regards peer pressure, never forget, it’s your mind, your body and your values and perhaps your future which could be jeopardised. Those you honour would caution “Think before you leap” or perhaps “Don’t rush in where Angels fear to tread.”
They would also tell you that unity will defeat bullies. So, stand shoulder to shoulder and support each other.
Each and every day there will be challenges. If you fail, then try again. The ANZACs always got back on their feet and tried again. You can be the same, get up and try again. Learn from your mistakes and those of others. You will be stronger, wiser and respected for it.
Speaking of respect, if you don’t give respect, you will not earn respect.
ANZACs shared and cared for each other, be it hardships, dangers, scarce water and food. They were only too willing to share their precious dreams of peace and of going home. There is much sharing and caring you can do at school, at home, or for example, the old lady down the street. Simpson and his donkey demonstrated it each and every day.
Our ANZACS had weaknesses and strengths. Like them, the key for you is to recognise and remove your weaknesses and improve the strengths.
The ANZACs disciplined themselves night and day to fight weariness, fear, hunger, terrible heat and freezing cold. You don’t have to experience any of the above but the same self-discipline can be developed to accept responsibility, to study, do your homework, chores and be part of the community by respecting its rules and laws. Self- disciplined people do not make excuses. They stand out; they are respected and consequently become more confident with each step of life.
The ANZAC’S worked as a team. They showed their reinforcements how to be part of it. You can do the same. If there are newcomers to your school and class, help them to be part of the team. It can become a battle cry; “We are as one.”
Above all is to lead by example and you can do that this very day. The junior classes below yours could well be influenced by your conduct, good or bad. They will also seek guidance. You can help your team captains by setting high standards of conduct which in turn helps to develop your potential to lead.
This how best you and I can honour them to ensure our way of life is not lost. We too must continue to embrace the Australian Spirit baptised by ANZAC and believe in the battle cry of “We are as one.”