96 years since tens of thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of casualties, in a futile endeavour.
Or was it futile?
Certainly, the offensive itself was misguided, ill-conceived and doomed to failure. War itself is, well, a debatable method for resolving human conflict. For me, one who believes whole-heartedly in peace, there have always been conflicting feelings. How do I justify my support and appreciation for those who have served in armed conflict?
The answer is that I don't need to justify my feelings. I don't need to apologise either for despising war, or for honouring those who have participated in it. It's not all that incongruous.
People have died in order that I might now live as I choose. That is worthy of honour.
Recently, I participated in the writing of Tallong: A Heritage. It was my privilege to research and write the chapters that included the period of the World Wars. I can't tell you of my emotion revisiting the story of the ANZACS.
As some of you know, I've lived in many countries. I've seen people living privileged lives, for whom Memorial Days and Armistice/Remembrance Days are nothing more than a day off from work. I'm sorry for them.
I'm proud to live in a country where tens of thousands have not only participated in commemorations today, but tens of thousands have appreciated them. As I type, there are tens of thousands standing in the cold and rain in Sydney, clapping, cheering, weeping and appreciating.
I read history and political theory at university, so I could go on for pages discussing these issues. I won't. I have my own commemorations to make.
May their souls,
and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the Mercy of God,
rest in peace.