ANZAC Day 2024 – A Tribute to the Unseen Heroes: The Families of Australia’s Military

Published on: April 3rd, 2024

ANZAC Day is one of the most important days on the Australian calendar, a day when we remember and honour our servicemen and women who have helped protect the wonderful country and way of life we enjoy today. It’s a day to celebrate everyday Australian values – mateship, courage and sacrifice – values that are still alive today with our ‘have a go’ attitude and tendency to put others before ourselves.

The COVID years saw many families separated for an extended time, and that separation reinforced how important family is, with many even reconfiguring their lives post-COVID to be closer together. Each year, I write an ANZAC Day post. Previously, I’ve paid tribute to Australian heroes from the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, Gallipoli, Kokoda and ‘The Rats of Tobruk’, as well as our frontline nurses and POWs. But this ANZAC Day has me reflecting on the unseen heroes of our military history, the families of Australia’s servicemen and women.

In the quiet corners of Australia, away from the fanfare of parades and the solemnity of memorials, some heroes bear the weight of sacrifice in silence. They are the mothers, fathers, spouses and children of those who have donned the uniform to serve their country in distant lands.

Throughout history, Australian servicemen and women have answered the call to defend freedom and peace across the globe. From Gallipoli’s shores to Afghanistan’s deserts, they have stood valiantly, often facing the ultimate sacrifice. But behind each uniform is a family, a support network that remains steadfast amidst the uncertainty of war.

The resilience of these families is remarkable. They juggle the roles of both parents, work jobs, attend school events, celebrate milestones and maintain the rhythm of daily life with one seat perpetually empty at the dinner table. They form a silent battalion, supporting one another and finding solace in shared hope.

To the families who have welcomed their warriors home, we celebrate your reunion and admire your strength during the long wait. And to those who have endured the knock on the door, the one that brings news no family should ever hear, we stand with you in your grief.

Let us remember that freedom comes at a cost, and while we honour those who wear the uniform, let us also pay homage to the families who serve in their own way.

We owe these families our gratitude, our respect and our unwavering support. They are the backbone of our servicemen and women, the quiet heroes whose sacrifice is etched into the soul of our nation, and the embodiment of the true Australian spirit.

I am very much looking forward to returning to the Dawn Service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. I will be paying tribute to, and taking inspiration from, the incredible families of our ANZACs and our servicemen and women pre and post. I hope you will join me in taking time out to remember them this ANZAC Day.

We remember the Australian qualities of courage, endurance, initiative, humour and mateship displayed by ANZACs. May these values continue to inspire Australians and New Zealanders to face today’s challenges.

Lest we forget.