TODAY we can expect attendances at Anzac Day services and marches across the Ballarat region to provide all the ammunition needed to suggest the Anzac spirit is far from dying – indeed that our sense of patriotism and want to recognise those who fought for our country has never been stronger.
It will provide proof – if it indeed is needed – that Anzac Day continues to fascinate and educate us.
It remains a solemn commemoration of human sacrifice in past conflicts, and yet it is a robust legend, defying the new world where technology and society are ever changing.
There have been more than 290,000 Australian casualties in conflicts from World War I to the most recent battles in Afghanistan.
In recent years the debate about the continuing efforts and sacrifices of our troops in Afghanistan has divided opinion. This debate occurs at a political and social level and is never a reflection on the efforts of our troops.
At a local level, Anzac Day 2012 marks a new beginning for the Returned Services League which has moved into new premises at the George Hotel. This move has not been without controversy but is one designed for longevity.
Today, for a few moments, or a few hours, such debates will be pushed aside.
As a small nation we’ve always punched above our weight and always been prepared to take up the battle when needed, or when requested.
While Anzac Day services and marches commemorate our history, it is also a celebration of what makes us great today.
The result of those conflicts in our context is the preservation of a modern, free Australia, with a prosperous economy and where people of different races, colour and gender can live together in peace.
Australians who travel overseas often return with an inflated sense of how lucky and privileged we are to enjoy a lasting peace, and a security we so easily take for granted.
We expect today’s services will reinforce that the terrible sacrifices made by our soldiers past and present will never be forgotten and Anzac Day will continue to provide us with a celebration of a nation as one, well after all our war heroes are gone.