The price of nationhood must be paid in blood and tears … It is the fortunes of Australia to find her true soul in a great and glorious struggle to preserve the liberties of the smaller nations, to crush a despotic militarism which would awe and subjugate the rest of the world. Anzac Day,which we have celebrated for the first time, and celebrated, we hope, in a solemn and thoughtful mood, means more to us than an immortal charge up the cliffs of Gallipoli. Whilst it reminds us of the valour of our dead heroes … it reminds us, too, in a much greater degree, of the day Australians really knew themselves. Before the Anzacs astonished the watching nations, our national sentiment was of a flabby and sprawling character. We were Australian in name, and we had a flag, but we …were nothing better than a joint in the tail of great Empire, and the Empire Day orators had a better hearing that the faithful souls who clung to Australia Day and gave special honour to their own starry banner. Anzac Day has changed all that. The Australian flag has been brought from the garret and has been hoisted on a lofty tower in the full sight of its own people. No matter how the war may end – and it can only end one way – we are at last a nation, with one heart, one soul, and one thrilling aspiration. There is mourning in our homes and grief in our hearts and the flower of our youth will not return to us; but there runs through the Commonwealth a lifting spirit such as it never knew before.
Freeman’s Journal, Sydney, 27 April 1916