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61,517 Australians Lay Down their Lives

At ANZAC Day each year, we honour the memory of the 61,517 Australian servicemen who made the supreme sacrifice in World War 1.  We stop as a nation to remember the sacrifices of all servicemen and service women who not only made the supreme sacrifice but serve our nation today, yesterday and those yet to come who will wear the uniform of our nation tomorrow.

The 25th of April was officially named ANZAC Day in 1916 when a wide variety of ceremonies and services were held in Australia, a march took place through London and a sports day was held at the Australian camp in Egypt.

We are used to seeing Veterans on Anzac day hold their hand on their heart while remembering their mates that they served with.  We all hold the memory of their sacrifices in our collective hearts but it is interesting to observe the origin of this custom.

The tradition of holding our hand on our heart should be observed by all Australians, not just servicemen, as it is in recognition of the Unknown Soldier, buried to represent all soldiers unable to be identified or found.  During the internment of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey, the guard of honour was made up of 100 recipients of the Victoria Cross and the guests of honour were a group of about one hundred women chosen because they had each lost their husband and all their sons in the war.  Every recipient of the Victoria Cross held their hands, not over their heart, but over their medals, hiding them in recognition that their deeds of valour were indeed nothing in comparison to the sacrifice of those who had laid down their lives.

The Tomb of our Unknown Soldier is buried in Canberra, at the Australian War Memorial and not only on ANZAC Day, remember the men and women of the Australian Defence Force by holding your hand over your heart in recognition that we all hold our respect for their sacrifices made for our great Nation.

“Lest we Forget”

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