In the lead up to Anzac Day, the team at Big Sky Publishing are selecting and sharing with subscribers a collection of Anzac facts and gems of information from their range of titles. Keep an eye on BigSkyPub Instagram and Facebook for giveaways of some terrific books. With the coronavirus pandemic causing the cancellation of Anzac Day services, we’re kicking off with a story that relates to us all.
Anzac Day Services, War Memorials and the Spanish Flu
Anzac Day was first commemorated in 1916. Services and parades were held in Australia, New Zealand, London and on the Western Front. A sports competition was arranged in Egypt. In Sydney, wounded soldiers and nurses attended a parade at which large crowds waved and cheered. Since then, the 25 April has remained as a day to commemorate all those who have served our country. Since then, on 25 April each year, the people of Australia and New Zealand have continued to reflect, remember and show gratitude for those who have been affected by war.
As well as remembering those who had fallen with parades and services, the people at home recognised the need to create lasting memorials to those buried on distant shores, and those giving up so much to serve their country. Committees were formed, fundraising drives developed and plans to create cenotaphs, obelisks, statues, gardens, windows and more, were soon underway.
The move to create war memorials began long before the signing of the Armistice, but as the war ended, and the troops were gradually returned to their homelands, the deadly Spanish Influenza was rapidly spread across the world. In December, 1918, the virus was detected in Victoria. In January 1919, the state was placed in quarantine. Public meetings were banned, public buildings shut, restrictions were placed on long-distance train travel and the border between NSW and Victoria was closed. The virus soon spread to other states. It was not until the end of 1919 that the pandemic was over.
Today, we are dealing with a similar pandemic of a century ago – a deadly virus that has impacted our world and threatens those we love. As we all adjust to the changes taking place in our lives, let’s endeavour to emulate that same sense of Anzac and community spirit of one hundred years before – courage, mateship, resourcefulness, and endurance, encased in a prevailing sense of humour.
Communities across Australia rallied, they persevered, and their war memorials were built.
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