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The ANZAC Spirit is Inspiring Aussies to Soldier On!

The importance of ANZAC Day is one of the few days in our national calendar that all Australians can agree on.  It’s a day when we reflect on the sacrifices of those who paved the way for the freedoms that we enjoy, and celebrate their legacy.

On Helping Hands, military serviceman and Afghanistan veteran, Darren Thomas, Australian sports chaplain Raewyn Elsegood, and the former Superintendent of Wesley Mission, Keith Garner, discuss what the spirit of ANZAC means today. 

Darren has retired from active service and now mentors and works with army cadets as they learn the responsibilities that come with being in the Australian military.  

In his role, Darren helps recruits to understand the sacrifices they and their families will make throughout their careers, but he never needs to inspire them. That, he says, is because the ANZAC spirit is all the inspiration they need. 

On ANZAC Day itself, Darren says, the spirit of ANZAC swells, fuelled by a common understanding and experience of pain and gratitude that drives us to commemorate. Even somewhere like the crowded MCG, where 100,000 excited football fans gather to watch the annual Essendon v Collingwood AFL game, you can hear a pin drop after the Last Post. "That’s how powerful the ANZAC spirit is," says Darren.

Keith, who immigrated to Australia from Britain over 20 years ago, says that while his connection to ANZAC might be different from the Australian experience, many people share the same emotional journey. 

“I’ve come to appreciate, having conducted now, as somebody from outside, services on ANZAC Day, how important it is for people to be able to just stop for a moment and think of the loss, the pain, the hurt and the devastation that’s associated, and hope for something better … We need peace, and we need a real confidence, and I think ANZAC Day helps you to believe in that.” 

Raewyn adds that, in her experience, it’s the common understanding of hardship, pain, suffering and overcoming that helps people to connect with ANZAC Day.

The things she believes identifiy the ANZAC spirit - mateship, courage, inspiration from those who have gone before us – are all essential for anyone who finds themselves bogged down in the trenches of hardship, suffering and grief that life is bound to bring.

For Raewyn, her own personal experience in the trenches is painfully raw. Only two years ago, she found herself deep in the trenches of hurt and pain after the tragic loss of her daughter. It was a song her daughter had danced to, called “Soldier, keep on marching on”, that became her path through the pain. 

“We pretended to be soldiers,” said Raewyn, when needing to make the difficult decision to turn off the ventilator that was keeping her daughter breathing. “We put ourselves in the place of what we thought we understood, and … marched out of the hospital.”

Drawing on the parallels of ANZAC Day, the ANZAC spirit and the Last Post, Raewyn says, “That song is now a bit of a mantra to keep me marching on and remembering that life is worth living.” 


See the ANZAC DAY discussion and the full catalogue of Helping Hands panels at Catch up on full episodes of Helping Hands on 9NOW 

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* Our panellists, Darren Thomas, Raewyn Elsegood and Keith Garner, and the Helping Hands producers are available for interview on radio, TV and online to discuss this topic. Get in touch at 


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