Mitchell, Natasha, Bruce Scates & Damien Williams: Anzac memories

Mitchell, Natasha, Bruce Scates & Damien Williams

Anzac memories‘, ABC Life Matters, 25 April 2013 (audio; no transcript)

Natasha Mitchell talks with Monash academics, Bruce Scates and Damien Williams, who describe their work on ‘100 stories‘ and ‘Anzac remembered‘. There are ten comments from listeners.

Williams is working on a history of Anzac Day as an occasion attracting reverence, albeit one which has changed over time. For example, applause for marchers is a relatively new development. There is a division among his respondents about whether Anzac Day ‘glorifies war’. He says that, if we send soldiers overseas as ‘heirs of Anzac’, we need to discard the mythology that has become associated with Anzac. He notes also that grief today is much more out in the open than it was in the early years after Gallipoli.

Scates says there is a need for truth in the way we record the history of World War and its aftermath. The stress in his research is less on heroism and more on damage to individuals, for example, those whose faces were so damaged they hid from the world, and the effect on families and lovers. ‘Domestic violence is the story just as building a memorial is the story.’

Scates notes the resistance of the Anzac Centenary Advisory Board to telling some of the more sensitive stories, for example, that of Frank Wilkinson, who killed himself and his wife ten years after the war. We have to tell the stories, he says, ‘that look the horror in the face’. We owe the men of World War I the truth. Resisting the truth produces mythology, not history.

There is also material (after 15.00 on the audio) about the ill-treatment of Indigenous servicemen.

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