Tag Archives: ANZAC

100 Anzac Commemoration: 25 April, 2015

Anzac Ted bearOn the centenary of the first Anzac landing at Gallipoli, I felt I just needed to say something about this once-in-a-lifetime event and what it means to me.

As the author and illustrator of Anzac Ted, I have had both the privilege and honour to be invited to numerous schools and preschools in the lead up to 25 April and speak to hundreds of children and teachers about my book. And it has been an incredibly moving and eye-opening experience for me.

I have sat beside Australian war veterans bearing a weighty array of service medals on their breast pockets. I have had hundreds of children listen to me speak and then ask countless questions prompted by my book. I have watched in breathless silence as wreaths were laid, songs from a world long past were sung and tales of our first Anzacs were told.

But over and above all, I have been struck by the depth of respect, pride and awe – both here and overseas – which has been woven into the very fabric of our lives for those who have gone before and sacrificed so much.

And this is not restricted to our soldiers but to their families as well who – in many respects – may have suffered just as much as their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons have. After all, they were left behind, not knowing the fate of their loved ones and yet they found the courage and strength to roll up their sleeves, lift up their chins and keep the home fires burning.

As an Australian who has inherited the legacy of the sacrifice of these men and women, both past and present, I am truly grateful. I have always considered myself lucky to live in The Lucky Country, but only now am I beginning to understand what that really means.

The 100 Anzac Commemoration has inspired a deeply moving and patriotic Australian spirit which has surpassed anything I have ever witnessed. People have come together, bound by gratitude and respect for our troops and their families. And while every Anzac Day is special, perhaps this one is more so because it has kindled the knowledge that not only are we tied indelibly to each other through our own unique history – but that we are seeing history in the making.

So, long may the Anzac legacy continue to strengthen us as a united and grateful nation. Long may we acknowledge the terrible costs of war and of defending our hard fought democracy. Long may we continue to pursue peace and in so doing, acknowledge those men and women who are prepared to defend that pursuit on our behalf.

In the words of renowned WW1 journalist Charles Bean: “They gave their shining youth and raised, thereby, valour’s monument which cannot die.”

Lest we forget.

Belinda x

Remembrance Day

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 1918, the guns fell silent. And the First World War; the Great War; the reputed War to End All Wars was finally over.

Looking back as I am now from the threshold of the next century, I can’t begin to imagine the joy, the relief and the overwhelming gratitude the world must have felt at that moment; yet mingled with indescribable and inconsolable loss.

Why the Great War started and how it ended is for all of us to debate. What we learned from it and how we put that knowledge into practice to ensure a peaceful future is up to each of us to decide.

So as we stand and observe a minute’s silence on Remembrance Day, we remember those who served and who are still serving in all wars and conflicts.

And the list is long.

I have vivid memories of Remembrance Day when I was a schoolkid in the 60s. We knew it was a special day because we were all given a sprig of rosemary to wear in our button holes with reverence and pride. It was a special day because the teachers informed us we were required to stand still with bowed heads at 11 o’clock precisely and think about all the soldiers who had gone to war for us. Not so special was having several teachers punctuate the seriousness of this request with dark looks and threats of picking up papers at lunchtime should we waver in our reverence and pride by fidgeting, chatting to our neighbour or eating playlunch early.

Suffice to say, most of the boys in my class ended up picking up papers at lunchtime!

Anzac Ted Front Cover High ResAnd that’s where it all ended. Ironically, for the kids at my school, Remembrance Day often lasted about as long as the wilting rosemary in our buttonholes. Then it was promptly forgotten.
Still, we had little to draw from. Many of our fathers and grandfathers had served in the World Wars, and yet I know that in my house the subject was never broached. War was considered a closed book – especially for children.

And it’s a tricky topic – how much should children be exposed to? Being naturally curious they will ask questions – as I did as a child – and hopefully Anzac Ted will encourage engagement and discussion. And not just about war, but about its repercussions such as the returned soldier, the unsung hero, tolerance, acceptance and peace.

While researching the illustrations for Anzac Ted, I spent a day at the Australian War Memorial where I wandered, unhurried, and lost myself in the halls of a defining piece of our history. It was eye-opening. And the more I saw, read and heard, the more I felt a deep sense of gratitude, respect and awe for these men and women who had gone before and given so much.
I felt I owed it to them to learn a little about who they were and what they had done, and by remembering them, they would live on.

Belinda x