Australia's day of unity celebrated

WITH plenty of debate and division about the relevance and timing of Australia Day, Anzac Day is the one date that truly unites this nation.

This morning many thousands of Australians will brave a variety of weather conditions to attend dawn and morning services across the country.

These are solemn and uplifting ceremonies no matter the location.

It will also be the 99th acknowledgment of the start of World War I and Australia's official involvement in a major conflict as a united federation.

While much of the focus has already shifted to next year's centenary celebrations and ballots to attend services at Gallipoli, today is equally significant.

Yesterday The Examiner published the story about Launceston's last surviving 2/40th Battalion veteran, Ron Cassidy, and the 93-year-old's determination to overcome a broken hip to represent his mates in today's Launceston march.

In many ways Mr Cassidy also represents many of us who do not have living relatives to acknowledge in the march.

Having read about Mr Cassidy's life and what he has already overcome, it would be no surprise to see him proudly wheelchaired through the streets of Launceston surrounded by a sea of red hats to commemorate the 2/40th, which was largely made up of Tasmanians.

In many ways Mr Cassidy also represents many of us who do not have living relatives to acknowledge in the march.

The enduring passion for Anzac Day is not the celebration of war but the recognition of sacrifice for our nation, and for every Australian it has a different meaning.

A huge number from the major conflicts have descendants. Many returned but many did not, and those who did return had their lives changed forever.

Many of us also have relatives who have worked, or still do work, in Australia's armed forces.

The times may be different but the level of commitment to Australia and the danger and challenges of the work are equally relevant.

It is no surprise that the popularity of Anzac Day is growing, because it is literally Australia's day.

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