It’s without a doubt one of the most important days on our national calendar but, considering its sombre nature, how should we explain Anzac Day to our children?
Your older children are probably already aware of Anzac Day and what it represents through school, but that doesn’t mean it won’t still be useful to have some pre-prepped answers if you’re asked a prickly question.
The fact of the matter is that all Australians, no matter how young they are, should be aware of the importance of Anzac Day. That’s kind of the whole point of it. But trying to explain war, death and sacrifice to a four-year-old isn’t the easiest, or most comfortable, thing to do.
Fundamentally, keep it simple. A background on war or why countries use violence to solve problems will either confuse your child even further (it confuses adults, regularly) or fall on deaf ears. Instead, focus on the good reasons why we commemorate the day here in Australia – because very brave Australians put their lives on the line to make sure that we could enjoy the freedoms that your child, and your family, get to enjoy every day.
Talk about how proud we are to call ourselves Australian, thanks to those brave few who fought and continue to fight for us, and how the Anzacs are defined by their mateship and courage.
If you have any, reference the Anzacs in your family. Explain what your children’s great-grandfather or great, great aunt did during the wars, whether they fought in the front line or experienced it on the home front. But remember, if your child is prone to anxiety or is particularly fearful of things like war and violence, keep it basic and positive.
Finally, attend an Anzac Day service! Your child will really benefit from seeing the Anzac spirit first hand, hearing the stories and getting an understanding of how important these commemorations are.
Brisbane Anzac Day Dawn Service kicks off at 4.28am, just before dawn, and is the largest service of its kind in the city, commemorating the service and sacrifice of Australian service people in every war and conflict since World War I. Steeped in tradition and protocol, the service features laying of wreaths, sounding of the Last Post and an observance of a minute’s silence. It takes place at the Shrine of Remembrance, in Brisbane City’s Anzac Square.
The Currumbin RSL Anzac dawn service officially commences at 5am at Elephant Rock, however there is a Veteran’s March prior to the dawn service that begins at the Village Green at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary at 4.35am. Set right beside the beach at Currumbin, this is a particularly special ceremony that honours the sacrifice and service contributed by our original Anzacs, and the many Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women who have defended and continue to defend our values and freedom in wars, conflicts and peace operations throughout a century of service.
For Byron Bay residents, there is a dawn service 30 minutes’ south of Byron in Ballina. The dawn service will start at 5.30am at the Ballina RSL Memorial, and there is a march later in the day commencing at River Street at 10am.
Later in the day…
The Anzac Day Parade in Brisbane will celebrate its 103rd anniversary this year, having been continuously commemorated from the first Anzac Day in 1916. The event is held annually for the citizens of Queensland to recognise the sacrifice of those members of the Australian Defence Force, many of whom have returned from wars and conflicts, originally encompassing the Boer War through to modern operations and conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The veterans, both retired and still serving, march to receive the thanks of the citizens of Queensland and visitors to the region as well as honour the memory of comrades who have not returned and have passed since.
On the Gold Coast, just one of the many parades around town is the Surfers Paradise RSL March and Civic Service. The march itself will commence at noon and continue along The Esplanade, turn right into Cavill Mall and continue through Surfers Paradise to the Cenotaph in Cavill Park, Cavill Avenue (at rear of Surfers Paradise RSL) for the Civic Service at 12.30pm.
Be sure to Google your nearest dawn service or Anzac Day parade, as there is likely to be a commemoration at your local church, school or RSL.