ANZAC day is an important part of recognising our history as a nation that had it roots in Britain but had also grown to become a force in its own right – independent of Britain. Australia’s involvement in the first World War was due to two main reasons – the loyalty and ties Australia had with the Commonwealth ie Britain, often referred to at the time as the ‘Mother Country’ and secondly the improvement of the nation’s international reputation as an economic and political power in its own right. The Australians born in England or of English ancestry made up more than 50 percent of the population at the time of Federation (1901) (En.
wikipedia.org., 2018) It is therefore not surprising that loyalty towards Britain and the monarchy was one of the main reasons why young Australians were so keen to enlist.
The strong sentimental attachment Australia had to England is also reflected in the way Australia referred to England at the time as ‘Mother England’ and the ‘Mother Country’. As Charles Bingham, Private 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station, said in an interview with Harvey Broadbent in 1985 “It was a feeling that England was the mother country. We were only a colony anyway, and although we’d been given independence, we were so tied to Great Britain that when she was in trouble it was just automatic, a feeling of ‘this is your duty’.
“(ABC News, 2014). Another reason why Australia joined the Allies during World War One was that we were keen to improve the nations international reputation. In 1901 the federation of Australia occurred, an event which gave Australians a strong feeling of national pride because they were now a united, free and independent country that whilst still young was growing rapidly economically and had become politically stronger than they were when they were just a set of separate colonies. (Civic and Citizenship, Austn Identity at Federation, 2018). Federation occurred not long before World War One broke out and many Australians still felt they wanted to prove that their country was not just a “dumpsite of convicts sent by Britain”.
Consequently, many Australians believed that Australia’s involvement in the war was a chance to show the rest of the world, what Australians were really made of and how much we had developed as a nation – that we were no longer just a convict settlement. We celebrate ANZAC Day as it reminds us of our nation’s history and how our role in the War signifies the beginning of our break from our mother country England and our convict past in order to reshape our national image.