THERE are few places - if anywhere - where the spirit of Australians was more on display than across the south-west on Anzac Day.
From Beeac to Camperdown, Colac to Coleraine, Dunkeld to Ellerslie, Hamilton to Hawkesdale, Noorat to Penshurst, Port Campbell to Port Fairy, Portland to Panmure, Yambuk to Terang and Warrnambool, thousands turned out for dawn services and marches to honour former and serving members of our defence forces.
As the numbers of First and Second World War veterans thin, these services and marches are increasingly populated by Vietam vets, current servicemen and women, families, kids, bands, dogs and others.
That the RSL now allows families to join the marches gives the day broader meaning and significance.
For those gathered on road sides or at memorials, the applause as the parade wound by was warm, heartfelt and proud.
War was not being celebrated. Nor in many ways were the reasons that young men and women enlisted to "serve their country", admirable though many of them were and are.
The feeling around dawn services and marches was of identity and belonging. A sense of time and place that went far beyond the loss and pain of conflict.
Anzac Day in the south-west isn't about nationalism per se. It isn't just about the uniforms, the battlefields, the flags or the failures of the political classes that tip countries into savage and costly conflict.
It was about togetherness. And acceptance of those whom we once faced across barbed wire, trenches, a rifle scope or a bomb sight.
It was about remembering and honouring those who serve and those who fell. And ensuring that if we learn about each other and accept our differences then there is less chance of these blood-drenched conflagrations happening again.
The world continues to be rocked by conflict, both open and insidious. The more recent threat of terrorism is another kind of war that seems unstoppable at this point in time.
But perhaps the attitude of those thousands who attended Anzac Day events across the south-west can spread and provide the antidote to aggression and retaliation.