Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anzac Day Reflections - 2007

Anzac Day has been commemorated each year in Australia on April 25th since 1916. Surprisingly, to me at least, every year it seems to gain in popularity as witnessed by the increasing numbers of people attending the various Anzac Day ceremonies throughout Australia.

But what does it mean for the Jewish Community? Does it have anything to do with us when taking account of the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis?

Growing up I was privileged to attend Anzac Day ceremonies held by the Jewish Ex-Servicemen Association and believe that I received an understanding of this important day. As Australians, and as Jews, we must be cognisant of those who fought in defence of our freedom. Sure, war is a terrible thing and many innocents are killed but that does not mean that we should sit back and ignore what is going on in other countries. The Australians who fought in the two world wars and Vietnam and are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today believed and believe that they are doing a service for the people in those countries and ultimately for the people of Australia. I am one of those who believes that they fought and are fighting for our freedom.

We are fortunate to live in a country that, in general, is not racist. Sure there are ignorant people around but, in the majority, Australians really do believe in giving everyone a fair go. This is borne out by the numbers of European Jews who came to these shores after the Second World War and have made successful lives for themselves and their descendents.

The Ode that is recited at every Anzac Day ceremony always gives me chills. It is a succinct remembrance of those who gave their lives for freedom:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.