The ANZAC legend is many things to many people, to me the legend is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago, it is embedded in our DNA, it is who we are as a nation. The Anzac Legend is the Australian Spirit.
This Anzac spirit has changed little over the past 95 years, the fundamental appeal and Spirit of the ANZAC legend is as relevant and strong today as it was on the day it was born, 25th April 1915, they were united under a common flag, a common emblem and a common outlook.
Over the ensuing 8 months of fighting at Gallipoli the Anzac legend, took hold and became a badge of honour, a rite of passage and an unwritten guide of Digger qualities and expectations.
Simply put the Anzac Spirit is, helping your mate out, regardless of the consequences and knowing that your mate will do the same if the situation was reversed, it’s doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
The ANZAC legend is confronting the difficult facts of our situation, whether as a combatant, POW or support staff. It is showing initiative to do whatever is required to achieve a goal or objective and knowing that we will survive and thrive in the end regardless of the difficulties.
It is overcoming overwhelming odds and atrocious conditions; it is turning the impossible into the possible. It is about the ability to push past ones perceived limitations and to achieve greater outcomes.
It is about perseverance, resilience, tenacity and persistence, never giving up, no matter how impossible it seems or how difficult the task.
It is about trust, tradition, integrity and respect for each other, dependence on each other, keeping your word, not letting your mates, family or others down, the ability to never give up, and self belief, to hang in there when all seems lost.
Perhaps General Cosgrove best sums it up. We are real people. Australians automatically form teams. We can’t see another Australian without feeling an immediate and strong sense of identity. You’ve automatically got a team. We instinctively trust each other until something happens to say that trust was misplaced. ‘And that’s why Australians are, almost as a fundamental premise, so good when they put a military uniform on.
The ANZAC legend did not suddenly and magically manifest itself on that fateful dawn 95 years ago but has been forged out of desperation and necessity since our Nation was founded in misery and despair over 200 years ago.
Our founding fathers showed the initial qualities of this unique Spirit and needed to draw strength and mutual support from the other inhabitants, just to survive in this new and unforgiving land.
Strength of Character and resolve was necessary to survive in this new land, with the vastness of distance, harshness of the terrain and violent an unpredictable weather.
Those that did not adapt to the conditions and environment of this new land, failed and perished.
Our early settlers took an early dislike for unnecessary restrictions and authority and dismissed anyone that was seen to be disruptive or counterproductive to progress and survival. This Australian indifference to authority would be viewed later on by some British military authorities as undisciplined and difficult to manage.
The Australian Soldiers character was viewed initially as an undesirable quality, but those that were close to the Australians soon realise that behind this veil of contempt for authority lay a dedicated and tenacious fighter that was more concerned in getting the job done as uncomplicated and efficiently as possible.
Australia has a strong reputation in both war and sport and we have a tradition of turning to sport to hone the skills, competitiveness and fitness of our service personal and to lift their spirit and morale. This involvement in sport contributed to our higher level of physical fitness, robustness and emphasis on the importance of teams.
The early characteristics and spirit were born out of necessity, needed to survive and thrive in this new land. The difficult environment and frequent natural disasters of fire flood and drought made it necessary for our forebears to rely on each other to assist each other to survive. Australians adapted better to their environment, they knew how to live rough.