Standing up for Canberra

Hong Kong Chamber: A Letter from Canberra

Sergeant Christopher Ernest Uhlmann was killed in action in Belgium on 21 July 1917.

That day this “splendid stamp of a man” was wounded by a shell in the trenches near Zillebeke Lake in Belgium. The Brigade Doctor Captain Aspinall, Bomber Barrs and Private Salisbury went to his assistance, but another shell fell “almost in the same spot and killed the four”.

He was just 26 and married to Florence May Uhlmann.

This ANZAC Day, after attending the Dawn Service, the mass at St Christopher’s Cathedral and the National ANZAC Day Ceremony, my husband Chris and I will honour Chris’ namesake “Ernie” by placing a poppy against his name on panel 11 in the Australian War Memorial. And we will join with thousands of other Australians and Canberrans in paying tribute to the memories and legacy of lost loved ones.

ANZAC Day is always significant in Australia, but as this year marks 100 years since the landing on Gallipoli in 1915, ANZAC Day 2015 will be nothing short of a momentous occasion.

The First World War helped define Australia as a people and as a nation. The ANZAC Centenary allows us to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice, the broken hearted they left behind and those who returned physically and emotionally wounded.

But the Centenary goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli. The Centenary provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how we have developed as a nation over the last hundred years. And it is a reminder that the qualities we identify with the ANZAC spirit - courage, mateship and sacrifice – still have relevance to Australia’s identity today.

Many of our political leaders will travel to Europe to commemorate ANZAC Day at Gallipoli, the Western Front, Villers-Bretonneaux, the Somme, Ypres and other battlefields of significance.

Others, like me, will commemorate this day at home with their communities. There is hardly a town in Australia that doesn’t have a memorial that will be the focal point of a Centenary of ANZAC commemoration. Millions of Australians will spend ANZAC day reflecting on how an enormous tragedy helped define a young nation.

Lest we forget.