Andrew Hamilton from Eureka Street looks at the lessons from New Zealand, following the Christchurch massacre.
When Australians think of Anzac Day, we normally focus on the initial Big A and not on the small nz. It remains a day to remember the dead, but it is often overlaid by a preoccupation with celebrating Australian national identity, replete with Australian cloaks and flags and reference to Australian warrior values embodied in military campaigns … This year the nationalist values purported to be Australian and to have flowed like blood from Anzac Cove will not do.
Military historian Greg Lockhart had this to say in Pearls & Irritations:
No one wants to forget the Anzacs or the values of mateship, loyalty and perseverance that fortified them in the dangers of their far-flung expeditions. Yet it would be in our national interests to remember that Anzac commemoration continues to support military missions that have no serious explanation – other than the one that they march straight out of our forgotten imperial past.
In Pearls & Irritations also, Honest History’s David Stephens told of four relatives killed in wars and called for a quieter, more reflective Anzac:
Anzac should be mostly private. It should be about the quiet, within-family, remembrance of – and caring about – people who have suffered in war, those who have been killed and not come home, those who have come home injured in body or mind, and those who live with the memory of the dead and the reality of the living.
Then there were items in The Conversation from Jim McKay on Indigenous servicemen in World War I, Kevin Brophy on Australian women poets during the same war, Robyn Mayes on women in war, and James Waghorne and Kate Darian-Smith on how World War I brought new skills back to Australia. From the last of these:
The first world war was significant to the formation of Australian national identity and defining national characteristics, such as making do and mateship. This is well acknowledged.
But it was also a technical war, which spurred advances in knowledge and expertise. Combined with the status of professionals in the public service, it profoundly reshaped Australia. It also led to the development of universities as places for training and professional qualification, as well as important research.
Readers are urged to explore further in these and other non-mainstream resources.
Cheating a bit because this is from the mainstream media, albeit an idiosyncratic branch of it, Paul Daley’s piece today. ‘Anzac has become a national faith, a secular religion. And fact, of course, runs a distant second to belief when it comes to faith.’
25 April 2019