2014 marks 100 years since the beginning of “the war to end all wars”.
Next year will mark 100 years since the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during World War I: they landed on Gallipoli on this day, 25 April, in 1915.
25 April was officially named Anzac Day as long ago as 1916. It is still observed now, with pride by some, with sorrow by others, with indifference by a great many more. As with Easter or Christmas, the Queen’s Birthday or Labour Day — all official Australian holidays — the significance has generally been diminished and it has become little more than a extra day off work.
Yet thousands of people will have set their alarms for 4am or 5am this morning in order to be at the Sydney Cenotaph for the Dawn Service. Hundreds of others, such as the members of the various pipe bands that mass for the service and march throughout the morning, will have woken even earlier. They will all have stood in silence on a pedestrianised thoroughfare overlooked by looming glass-sided office towers, as a grey dawn broke and wind drove rain into their faces — and they held their private thoughts.