Viscount Lord Nelson at the “Battle of Trafalgar”, Wolfe of Quebec or the Duke of Wellington at “Waterloo”, Washington crossing the Delaware, or Generals’ Lee and Grant at the “Battle of Gettysburg”, from Hector and Lysander to Alexander and Napoleon, all are names that resonate as greats in the pages recording the history of warfare in mankind.
Be it in America, Great Britain or indeed almost any nation on earth, it seems to be the Generals who more oft than not, are foremost in the annuls of recorded history. Founded as a colony in 1788, becoming a Federation and independent in 1901, it is widely held that it was on the battlefields of Gallipoli that Australia became a nation and cemented the fabric which is our Aussie culture.
Australia is a remarkably different society, if you ask an Aussie on the street who do they think of as the greatest figure in our military history, a few might mention Sir John Monash. In truth, more of us would be more likely to know of the University named after him rather than the man himself. Some may answer Simpson and his donkey, but most of us would probably be hard pressed to come up with the name of any individual.
No, the reality is that our culture is quite different and thankfully unique from almost any other, our belief in a fair go for all is not some quintessential throw away, it’s actually the way we see ourselves in the geo-political mix which constitutes today’s world. Indeed it is because of this that we see an everyday man, one who we know as our father, grandfather, brother or son and today, even our grandson, a man who has lain down his life and stood shoulder to shoulder with his mates, this is the man who we all think of. As Aussies it is “The Digger” who we see as the true hero in our feats of arms.
War is abhorrent to almost every soldier, sailor or airman and it is not to celebrate their feats and it is most certainly not to celebrate war itself, that on April 25th every year we commemorate Anzac Day. It is a time of remembrance, a day to remember those who have fallen, to say thank you for the sacrifices of those who have served and to think of the men and women on todays battlefields who are doing the job our Nation asks of them, preserving the freedoms we enjoy each and every day.