OUR SAY: Dispensing with Anzac Day public holiday misguided

THE NSW Government would be misjudging the public mood if it was to gazette an additional public holiday for Anzac Day which falls on a Saturday next year.

There has been a suggestion from opposition leader John Robertson that if the RSL wanted an additional public holiday he would support it but thankfully that idea is not gaining favour.

Orange spokesmen for the RSL have made an important distinction between Anzac Day and other public holidays, a distinction that reflects the steadily growing number of Australians who attend dawn services and Anzac Day marches.

Today more than ever Australians are appreciating that Anzac Day is a commemoration first and a public holiday second.

You can see it in the hundreds of residents who attended our dawn service in Robertson Park this year, in the servicemen and women who marched down Summer Street, in the school children who proudly followed them and the thousands of members of the public who flanked both sides of the road applauding them.

There can be no doubt that Anzac Day, and the spirit of service and sacrifice that it represents, have enjoyed an unprecedented resurgence in public support.

This is due in part to an appreciation of the role Australian defence force personnel have played in recent conflicts and peace keeping duties but also because we have seen the way in which allies from the world wars have marked significant anniversaries with commemorations of the sacrifices Australians made in foreign lands for their sake.

For many Australians Anzac Day has never felt like a holiday. It is a sombre day for most people and an intensely sad day for our ageing veterans and widows. 

Nothing can be added by treating it like a holiday for which we are somehow shortchanged if it should fall on a weekend.


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