AUSTRALIANS have served their country, when called on by the British Empire, as far back as the Crimea War in Europe and the Maori Wars in New Zealand.
Australians were also involved in The Boer War in South Africa and the little-known Boxer Rebellion in China.
A lot of Australians lost their lives in these battles.
Then we came to World War I – the birth of the Anzacs.
It was called the war to end all wars, 1914-1918, and again Australians rallied to the call.
In the words of the first verse of the Ode to the Fallen – “They went with songs to battle!”
True of eye
These young Australians were excited and looking forward to the adventure as they marched down the streets of Fremantle, Albany and other capital cities, where they joined the convoy of ships bound for Africa and beyond.
The verse of the Ode goes on, “They were young, straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow”.
Then came the horrendous landing at Gallipoli, where over an eight month period we saw thousands of Anzacs killed and wounded.
There is nothing truer, as the verse of the Ode continues, “They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, they fell with their faces to the foe”.
From Gallipoli onto France and Belgium the Western Front, the Australians faced fearsome odds and casualties were high, but the spirit of the Anzac lived on.
World War I finally ended and the guns fell silent on the Western Front.
The Armistice was signed on November 11 1918, putting an end to the war.
A total of 61,919 Australians paid the supreme sacrifice; giving their lives for their country.
Then, in what felt like the blink of an eye, World War II was upon us, and the sons and daughters of the Anzacs rallied to the call.
They saw action in Africa, Europe, The Middle East, South East Asia, the Pacific and New Guinea.
This time the war was closer to home. We saw the hospital ship, the Centaur, torpedoed and sunk by an enemy submarine.
Everyone onboard the ship died including crew, doctors, nurses and wounded soldiers. This occurred off the south east coast of Queensland, not far from Brisbane.
There was the sneak attack by two enemy miniature submarines in Sydney Harbour, and closer to home the bombings of Darwin, Broome and other towns across Northern Australia.
The brave sons and daughters of the Anzacs stood fast, and their courage and bravery assisted in ending the war and saving Australia from invasion.
However, by the end of the war in 1945, once again thousands of Australian men and women had lost their lives.
But we know the world can be a crazy place: in 1950 Australia answered the call of the United Nations and went to the aid of South Korea.
Australia’s involvement had a huge impact on the cease fire in 1953.
There was never a surrender or armistice signed between North and South Korea, and still there are tensions between these two countries.
Once again hundreds of Australians were killed in action.
We ask the question, when will it end? The names on the honour boards across the country continue to grow. Hundreds of Australians lost their lives in The Malayan Emergency, The Indonesian Confrontation and The Vietnam War.
It didn’t stop there and there was The Persian Gulf Wars, East Timor, Iraq and the on-going conflict in Afghanistan.
Many more Australians have been killed in action during these campaigns.
During this short journey of Australia at war, over 103,000 Australian men and women have been killed in battle.
Anzac Day and Remembrance Day pays tribute to all the men and women that have been killed in action, and acknowledges all those that have served in the defence of our country.
At the dawn service on Anzac Day and on Remembrance Day – and every day – we will remember them.
“Lest we forget”