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ANZAC after 100 years

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Charles Bean was Australia’s official First World War historian. He landed with the Australian troops at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 and remained with them at the front through the entire war. Wounded himself at Gallipoli, he wrote and edited the 12-volume official history of World War I over almost a quarter of a century.1

At its very end, presented with the task of summarising it all — 62 000 dead and 155 000 wounded of the 330 000 soldiers who embarked for overseas, drawn from a nation that twice rejected conscription — Bean wrote:1

What these men did, nothing can alter now.

The good and the bad, the greatness and the smallness of their story

It rises … it always rises, above the mists of ages

A monument to great hearted men, and for their nation — a possession forever.

The birth of Australia as a nation

The great 19th century English philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote that there are two essential prerequisites for a nation to exist. The first was that a people would want to be governed as one. Late in the 19th century, decades of debate delivered the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. The second was what Mill described…