It’s been more than 20 years since former prime minister John Howard described the Anzac legend as “a story of great valour under fire, unity of purpose and a willingness to fight against the odds that has helped to define what it means to be an Australian”.
It was in response to the peaceful death of the last Anzac, Alec Campbell.
As Anzac Day approaches, Military Shop is hosting the Voices of Anzac campaign, calling for everyone and all to share their stories, memories and reflections on what Anzac means to them.
It aims to crowdsource storytelling to create awareness, start a dialogue and keep the Anzac spirit alive, even as we lose our citizens with first-hand memories.
Stories can be submitted by posting on Facebook or Instagram under the #voicesofanzac hashtag, or submitting directly to Military Shop by email, for inclusion on the Military Shop website, Facebook and Instagram.
Caris Ebeling, who created a video while promoting the campaign, said by igniting a meaningful discussion, the campaign sought to create a “more nuanced and inclusive understanding of an important part of our national identity”.
“Australians have unique and personal interpretations of what the Anzac spirit embodies,” she said.
“Our primary objective is to generate community awareness surrounding Anzac Day and the Anzac spirit.
“However, we also aspire to cultivate an atmosphere of open dialogue, where diverse perceptions and personal stories can be shared and celebrated.”
The campaign also aims to shine a light on the veterans and active service members whose selfless sacrifices may have been overlooked or forgotten.
“By doing so, we can honour their bravery and instil a deeper appreciation for their contributions to our nation’s history and future,” Caris said.
In his submission, Nigel Allsopp of the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation implores: “This Anzac Day, when we remember the sacrifices of our members of the armed forces in Australia both past and present, please spare a thought for all the animals that have also served this nation in times of war.”
Another participant, Stephen Davie says: “As an Australian not born to this beautiful country, I have been inspired by everyday Australians to understand what it is to be an Australian, by their respect and gratitude to those who have served our great nation. In each I see the values of the Anzac spirit: respect, courage, ingenuity, endurance, humour and mateship. Virtues born on the beaches of Gallipoli over 100 years ago.”
In his video, fifth-generation serviceman and Vietnam vet Bruce Jeffrey touches on the impact of war on family and mental health.
“Our families are not untouched by the scars and mental trauma that war and military service can cause. Anzac Day gives us a chance to wrap our arms around each other and be thankful that we have a family to support us,” he says.
“As we know, not everybody that returns from war has the support of loved ones to help them fight the demons that remain long after their service ends.
“Anzac Day to our family means legacy. As we age, we have made sure that our children and grandchildren are brought up knowing about the Anzac legend, what Anzac Day means and how important it is to commemorate and pause to reflect on the sacrifices of others.”
Caris said reflecting on the Anzac spirit was not only important for those who served and their families.
Everyone can have valuable reflections on those whose sacrifices made possible the country we live in today.
“As years go on, and older generations get older, it’s easy to forget that,” she said.
“We need to keep people talking about it and keep that story alive. Perhaps even open people’s eyes to a new perspective.”
Post your Voices of Anzac video on Facebook or Instagram with the #voicesofanzac hashtag or email it to email@example.com for inclusion on the Military Shop website, Facebook and Instagram.