I am always moved by Dawn Service on Anzac Day but this year, after the ceremony at the Cenotaph in Martin Place early this morning, I am compelled to write.
It was the largest crowd I have seen in the many years I have attended. The 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing is no small matter, it cuts to the heart of our Australian identity: Courage; Loyalty; Mateship; Fairness; Egalitarianism. There were contributions from, and acknowledgements to, servicemen and women, Australians everywhere, the Australian Aboriginal people, New Zealand and Maori people and those from many other parts of the world. It was beautiful to see so many generations from all walks of life, together in common purpose.
'Lest We Forget’ is central to this day. We want to remember the sacrifice of those that have made our way of life possible. We seek to remember the severe cost of war, all war, and undertake to protect ours and future generations from its wrath. But NSW Premier Mike Baird offered the Dedication about half way through this morning’s ceremony and said something that struck me, "May we be worthy of their sacrifice.”
To be worthy of, and grateful for, this life and love is a tall order. This is something I consider deeply and often. What is our contribution and how can I help? This is the nature of ‘our life’s work’. In yoga, this is called Dharma. It is the task we are set and the contribution we are equipped to offer. It’s not necessarily fixed for the duration of our lives and it’s not always clear but requires our commitment, patience and persistence.
I saw an example of a worthy life’s work this morning. This was the last ceremony to be officiated by Lieutenant Colonel John Moore. This man’s articulate, meticulous preparation and presentation characterises Anzac Day and Dawn Service. His commitment, warmth and compassion is a gift we can be grateful that he has shared with us in this role for the last 10 years.
The Governor of NSW also acknowledged this wish to be worthy of the sacrifice of our ANZACs. Importantly, he spoke of our becoming a Country of Compassion. This is my hope for us; that we are a grateful and compassionate people committed to making a contribution in this life.