Holiday or not, Anzac Day should be acknowledged

A mother recently shared on Facebook that no Anzac Day commemoration would be held this year at the school her children attend, and being a member of the Defence Force, she was less than impressed.

The fact that Anzac Day fell in the middle of the school holidays, she felt, was not deemed an appropriate reason for the absence of an official observance.

Recognition of the day would occur in classrooms rather than a whole school assembly, where traditions such as the laying of the wreath, a minute’s silence, and the Last Post are observed.

She was not alone in her sentiment.

Comments in response to her post ranged from disappointment to disgust, with many finding it ultimately disrespectful.

We celebrate Mother’s day, Father’s Day, Easter, Christmas and a range of other religious observances, some even lucky enough to be awarded a whole-school assembly, where students sit quietly, eyes glazed over till the songs are sung, awards are handed out, the birthday kids have been recognised, and the Principal has spoken.

But it is felt that Anzac Day, and the rituals that accompany the commemoration, should be a tradition that is ingrained to the core of our beings, despite falling in the middle of the school holidays.

Time should be set aside in the school term to lay the wreath, hear the Last Post and observe a minute’s silence to serve as a reminder of the futility of war and the fragility of life.

We put our own lives and existence to question when we are reminded of experiences that we cannot comprehend of our own selves.

And yet, They experienced it.

Young lives sacrificed at the altar of patriotic loyalty, of what they believed to be fundamentally right for humankind.

Not all families sacrifice their public holiday sleep-in to rise early and brave the cold morning air to stand in remembrance at dawn once a year, paying tribute to Those who did far more.

So it is left to the institutions we belong to, to provide the opportunity to pause, remember and pay tribute.

It makes us better human beings.

Even if five and six year-olds do not fully understand the context and meaning of the ritual, at the very least, they are exposed to the tradition.

And they will grow into their own understanding, just as religious individuals pay homage to the man who gave his own life on the cross.

But Anzacs, and indeed all veterans, are not remembered weekly, they are given one day of the year, where the offering of their lives, for individuals who they would never know, is given respect and homage that can never compensate.

The one day of the year where veterans who were never given a ticker tape parade upon their return, or who were spat on in protest of their service, are honoured.

They are honoured in a fashion which serves to remind us that we should never repeat the same mistakes or take for granted the individual worth of each soul that is offered for the sake of our own.

And we should remember them. Each and every year.

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