Remembrance Day 2020
I have always shied away from blind patriotism; I cast no blanket statements that Australia is the “greatest nation on earth”, quite honestly it makes me cringe.
As a history major at university, the World Wars have always been an interest of mine (and many others) for the sheer volume of geo-political shifts that rippled from these monolithic conflicts. As the Great-Granddaughter of a Rat of Tobruk and a WWII mechanic, and the Great-Niece of an RAF fighter pilot, I still never understood how some, Australian or not, could have such an unwavering pride in their country.
I wouldn’t have ever described myself as a particularly patriotic person until 25th April 2016. That was the day I was privileged to attend and sing at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, France for ANZAC Day. I experienced first-hand that it is coldest before the dawn, and the deep culturally ingrained gratitude that is extended to Australians by those who still live on what remains of the Western Front. Everywhere I went, I was welcomed with open arms, all because I was Australian.
I experienced this same love and admirations for Australia when I returned to the Western Front in July 2018 to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Le Hamel. The generosity that I was shown by the French is a testament to the grit of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Today on Remembrance Day, I honour the memory of those who have gone before us.
It is often said that our involvement in global conflicts so early in our journey as a Western Nation, shaped the identity of modern-Australia. I tend to agree, but I think more than anything, our ability to throw ourselves in the ring-shaped a global perspective of Australians that still largely defines us today.
Today I remember my Great-Grandfathers, family friends, and all others who have served Australia. I remember those who were not honoured for their sacrifice. I hope that with each passing year when we commemorate Remembrance Day, that we move together towards a world without conflict.
Em Salmon is the Chief Youth Representation Officer at UN Youth Australia. Em is in her final year of studying a Bachelor of Secondary Education / Bachelor of Arts at the University of Queensland.