After attending and participating in two very moving ANZAC Day services in our local community this morning I took my Fixie out for a reflective memorial ride along the Melbourne coastline to the city, stopping at war memorials along the way. My destination was the Shrine of Remembrance in the Botanic Gardens where I met my family for a final tribute to the fallen.
As I rode along the shoreline of Port Phillip Bay I began thinking about what the ANZAC's were defending as they landed on the shore of Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula. Their invasion of a foreign land was not to deny the sovereignty of one nation but to defend the security of all nations. It was not a demonstration of paternalism but a display of partnership with allied forces.
Today, as I looked over my shoulder at the beaches, reserves and foreshores that lined the coastline, I had a deep sense of appreciation for the freedom I have to enjoy such places and couldn't help but notice the diversity of others who were enjoying the same freedom. Each home, business and community centre that I rode past are a living expression of this freedom.
Then my mind wandered to the border protection policies of our government and I felt a contradiction with all that ANZAC Day represents. Australia enjoys freedom because men and women were prepared to fight against overwhelming odds to secure it. Yet, men and women who are fighting the same battle today for a taste of what Australians defend so strongly, find closed borders blocking their access to that freedom.
Along my memorial ride I wrestled with these challenging thoughts and the words "Lest We Forget" became as much about the present as the past. Lest we forget the price that people from all over the world are still paying today to leave tyranny and oppression for a life of freedom and peace as some seek to call Australia home!