ANZAC Day is the day that stops a nation. And, being the centenary this ANZAC Day will stop every Aussie in their tracks as we honour those Australians and New Zealanders that fought and died for our freedom and for justice: those who gave their lives in war and conflict for the cause of peace. In particular we remember those, and are inspired by those, who died at what many call “the birth of our nation” at ANZAC Cove. Things were different one hundred years ago. Back then the children would learn and would grow up singing the following words:
To help the weak against the strong,
To guard the right against wrong,
And bear the flag of Truth along.
It takes physical strength mixed with spiritual fortitude to help the weak against the strong. Says one writer, speaking of our heroes who were at ANZAC Cove, “Mental strain and physical illness reduced the bodies of our finest youth to gaunt skeletons held together only by determination.”
Yes, it was sheer determination that held these brave men together when they were fighting to help the weak against the strong, as they laid down their lives for their friends, their mates. It was, it is, and will ever remain the honourable thing to do! It is just to guard the right against wrong, for this is to hold up the flag, the banner of truth!
In this one is reminded of a verse of Scripture that says,
“When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19b)
Those marching today should march proudly on this the centenary. With your flags and your banners waving in the breeze, breathe deeply the air of freedom as you march to the beat of liberty. And may the Australian sun be seen glinting off of the “Rising Sun” badge on your slouch hat! Yes, thank the LORD that He lifts up a standard against the enemy of truth, the enemy of justice, and of freedom.
The people who line the streets as you march today will cry out to you, saying, “Thank you!” They are thanking you for your determination to help the weak against the strong, to guard the right against wrong, and bear the flag of truth along – just like your forefathers, just like all those brave men and women who died in all wars and conflicts that have been fought in the defence of our peaceful nation.
It was a Padre, the Reverend Arthur White, who began our “Dawn Service” tradition. He had conducted a service at 0400h on the morning of the departure of the earliest ANZACs to leave Australia. After the Great War, at dawn on 25th April in 1923, he and twenty others watched a wreath they had thrown into the water. As it floated out to sea, he recited these words, “As the sun rises and goeth down we will remember them.”
How can we forget them? How can we ever forget our fallen? They have made the supreme sacrifice! They laid down their lives for their friends!
In Laurence Binyon’s 1914 poem “For the Fallen” from which our “Ode of Remembrance” is taken, we find the following words:
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
Yes, they fell with their faces to the foe. Brave!
Jesus set His face against the foe as He went to the cross to defeat death itself! Yes, death killed Him, but death has no victory, for He slew death by being raised again on the third day. And He didn’t die for His friends. He laid down His life for His enemies, you, me and all of humanity!
The enemy may come in like a flood, but the LORD has lifted up a standard, the risen Jesus Christ. We look to Him for ultimate justice and absolute truth. He fought the good fight. He conquered the last enemy which is death. In Him alone is there forgiveness and reconciliation with God, everlasting life, for He is the resurrection and the life.
Keep this in mind as we remember those who fought and those laid down their lives while defending our nation. They shed their blood for Australia, the land that is girt by sea. They laid down their lives for our nation, young and free! They wrote their names on history’s page that at every stage we may advance Australia fair!