Last Saturday, people across our City and throughout WA, gathered on their front driveways at 5:30 AM to hear the National Dawn Service, broadcast from the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, through our much appreciated local ABC, 702 AM Karratha.
What an unusual event! But wasn’t it great that so many took the time and effort during these difficult times to once again remember the sacrifice of our war veterans, past and present, those still with us and those who have passed-on, on this sacred day April 25th.
While we do this every year, there was something especially poignant about paying our respects, separately from home, in the early dawn, while so many of our neighbours did the same.
April 25th of course, marks the anniversary of the landing at Gaba Tepe, now known as Anzac Cove, on Sunday, the 25th of April 1915. This was the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I. By nightfall on that fateful day some sixteen thousand men had been landed and hundreds had been killed.
By the end of that eight-month campaign, nearly 8000 Australians had lost their lives in a battle, that it was later concluded, had no influence on the course of the war.
But as World War 1 was finishing, the world was in the grip of the 1918 influenza pandemic known today as the Spanish Flu. It infected 500 million people – about a third of the world's population at the time. It lasted three years from the beginning of 1918 to the end of 1920 and deaths have been estimated at between 17 and 50 million.
How strange, that 100 years later, we are suffering another pandemic, though the COVID-19 world death toll in 2020 (currently about 200,000) will hopefully mean far, far fewer deaths.
The 105th anniversary of the futile Gallipoli landing is happening during a new pandemic which mirrors World War 1’s terrible Spanish Flu and emphasizes the importance of the brave souls who fight for our freedom, whether it be on the front lines or in the hospitals.
Courage, sacrifice and fighting for our community characterise both our soldiers and our medical professionals: this year as we honour and remember those who fought in war, let us not forget our brave doctors and nurses who also put their lives on the line for us.