How to celebrate Anzac Day this year?
ANZAC DAY - Mateship.
It is one word that springs to mind when thinking about ANZAC Day. In what was known as the “great war”, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corp went off to serve our country.
During this time, the enlistment age was 21, or 18 with the permission of a parent or guardian, however, boys between the ages of 14 and 17 could enlist as buglers (those who played the Last Post) and musicians. Many, wanting to be soldiers, lied about their age to join and go off to fight, and for many Australians, the battle of Gallipoli is well remembered.
Many of us would normally attend a dawn service, out of respect for those who still serve in our armed forces, or in remembrance of those who fought for our country.
What was the impact?
Australia’s population in World War 1 was just under 5 million, and approximately 10% of our population enlisted, resulting in the loss of over 60,000 lives. COVID has breached the 1 million mark, and is forecast to exceed 100,000 deaths globally by the end of April 2020.
In World War 1, conditions were harsh
No matter our family history, we are likely to have relatives that fought in the war. If you have ever spent time doing a little family research, you can come across medical records and discharge papers that detail what happened, and get an understanding of the conditions they faced, how they sought compensation for the impacts to their mental health, and sadly, how those claims were dismissed.
When you stop and think that young adults dealt with conditions like frostbite, losing fingers or limbs to gunshot wounds, be buried alive, make it to a makeshift hospital where their recovery time was fast tracked so they could be sent out to do battle again and fight for the freedoms we enjoy today,, we have a lot to be grateful for.
An Aussie digger might even describe how we are being asked to fight for our country right now as cushy.
The term “digger” came about in World War 1 for Australian and New Zealand soldiers, and just as we love mateship, and look to find a laugh as a way of getting through tough times, other Aussie slang terms came into existence. Words like “plonk” from shortening the french words “vin blanc” - white wine, and cushy (taken from the hindi word “khush”) were all used as a way for troops to communicate with each other.
We aren’t being asked to go to the front line, in the trenches.
We are being asked to stay indoors, wash our hands, eat fresh and healthy food, practice social distancing, and stay connected using technology.
We have access to mental health resources that were not in existence 100 years ago.
We are still being asked to do our part. Here’s some ways to keep the ANZAC spirit alive during COVID.
1. Look out for your mates
Schedule a facetime chat or phone chat is one way to get going. If you aren’t great at talking about feelings though, you can organise a virtual activity instead to help you stay connected, like a BBQ, or practice social distancing and social media at the beach while you go fishing.
You could organise a watch party with a Netflix movie and choose an ANZAC favourite to reflect on.
Particularly, if you have friends and family who are serving, or who have served in the Armed forces, reach out to them to see how they are doing, and let them know that you are there.
Even though World War One happened over 100 years ago, we still have people who have been impacted by civilian wars and political unrest today. Our armed forces are still involved in both humanitarian and peacekeeping missions globally.
2. Show your Aussie spirit in your garden
Poppies are synonymous with ANZAC day, Likewise, many memorial parks have planted trees in remembrance of our fallen soldiers. You can still plant a tree, or flowers to remember ANZAC Day, and in future, remember this time of our lives.
3. Include the kids in ANZAC Day
If you don’t have green thumbs, you can take the opportunity to get the kids to create a field of poppies as a home school project by sourcing some craft supplies online. All they will need are some popsticks, some red paper, a pair of craft scissors and they can plant a field of remembrance in the front yard to share with anyone driving by, or with family and friends over facetime.
4. Make ANZAC Cookies for a friend
Made with simple staples, ANZAC cookies were famous for being sent by wives and women's groups to the front line as they could survive the transport and not spoil. Made from flour, golden syrup, desiccated coconut, rolled oats and butter, why not bake and send a batch of ANZAC cookies to the door of a friend with a note on three things you appreciate about them.
5. Organise a gift to be delivered to someone who has served in our armed forces
A gift delivered to the door of friends and family members in the high-risk category can be a thoughtful way to keep the ANZAC spirit alive. Being able to do business online is something we have today that can help close the distance gap, and keep us safe.
For those who have been told not to leave their homes at all, little things can help with their mental well being. It’s an act of kindness that helps them know you are thinking about them, and might just brighten their day.
6. Participate in Dawn Service by sharing a sunrise on social media
If going to a Dawn Service is a tradition that you participate in, don’t let the absence of a gathering stop you from paying your respects.
Make the effort to get up early, watch the sunrise, start a Livestream, play the last post, and reflect on the importance of mateship and what we can do to keep our country safe at this time.
While the ANZAC’s went to war to fight for our country, each and every one of us are called to arms to fight for the health and well being of our country. Let’s keep doing the right thing so that when we get through this, we can celebrate again with the people who matter to us.
We stand with you!
Ferratum Australia stands with you during these uncertain times. With everything going on around us, ANZAC Day reminds us that we still have our community spirit and freedom as a Nation.