PRIME Minister Julia Gillard believes Australian children will be the driving force behind Anzac Day for “all of time”.
Ms Gillard, in the garrison city of Townsville in north Queensland, says she is encouraged by the number of young people attending Anzac day services around the country.
“The thing I always look for is the number of children and there are just more and more and more,” she told ABC television on Thursday.
Parents often freely admitted to her that it was their children who “dragged” them to services.
“It’s actually the children who are driving the next level of engagement.
“I think that means that for all of time we will commemorate Anzac Day and think about who we are as Australians on that day.”
Ms Gillard said for her personally the day was about the “spirit of being Australian, and our history and what’s forged us and shaped us”.
One thing the prime minister won’t be doing on Thursday is enjoying a rum and milk at the local RSL.
“I’ll have to rule that out,” Ms Gillard said.
In her address in Townsville before the morning service, Ms Gillard said war often meant saying goodbye to loved ones without knowing if they’d ever return.
“This city of Townsville understands that truth so well”, she said.
The prime minister said on every Anzac Day, the community honoured the sacrifice of the men and women who left home to serve Australia abroad.
That story of Australian duty was as relevant today as it was for families and communities who farewelled the original Anzacs in 1914 and 1915 to the battlefields of Europe and the Middle East.
“Australians said goodbye and promised never to forget,” Ms Gillard said.
“War is the worst of human experience, war with its full dreadful price.”
She also made reference to the psychological toll of war, of soldiers returning home to lives changed forever, and their loved ones who faced a different and longer battle behind closed doors.
Ms Gillard urged those who went to fight, and those who didn’t, never to forget the families of the more than 100,000 Australians who have died fighting for this country.
“We remember that today, we remember our whole experience,” she said.
“If you want to understand Australians, watch us on Anzac Day.” – AAP