I have often heard it said that the ANZAC spirit is dead but what is the ANZAC spirit? I believe it is still alive. In particular it is manifested in the men and women of our volunteer fire brigades who put their lives at risk every summer to protect lives and property.
As I write this I sit at home with a bushfire just 16 klm away, keeping alert for any change in the situation; my son, family friends and work colleagues are among those trained volunteers fighting the fires with their respective Rural Fire Service Brigades.
I recalled reading from CEW Bean’s official history of Australia’s role in WWI that he believed the motive that sustained the ANZACs at Gallipoli was not love of a fight or hatred of the enemy. Nor was it patriotism or loyalty to Great Britain and it wasn’t the desire for fame.
Bean wrote “It lay in the mettle of the men themselves. To be the sort of man who would give way when his mates were trusting to his firmness; to be the sort of man who would fail when the line, the whole force and the Allied cause required his endurance; to have made it necessary for another unit to do his own units work; to live the rest of his life haunted by the knowledge that he had set his hand to a soldier’s task and had lacked the grit to carry it through – that was the prospect that these men could not face. Life was very dear, but life was not worth living unless they could be true to their idea of Australian manhood. Standing upon that alone, when help failed and hope faded, when the end loomed clear in front of them, when the whole world seemed to crumble and the heaven to fall in, they faced its ruin undismayed.”
There is a quality in Australians that never fails in times of disaster be it during fire or flood; by organised and trained volunteers, professional emergency workers or just neighbours supporting each other.
This is the ANZAC spirit that has endured.