Pyne, Christopher: Crucible of nationhood

Pyne, Christopher

Crucible of nationhood‘, Pyne Online (originally published Australian Financial Review, 24-27 April 2014)

The author is the Coalition’s Minister for Education.

We should … remember how through this forge of war our infant nation reached out and grasped a national character that would begin to define us as a people, an Australian spirit. After Gallipoli we would be known as a nation that confronts hardship and difficult circumstances with determination and a blithe good humour. The legends of Gallipoli were the larrikins who with unblinking courage would leap from a trench under heavy fire to rescue a mate.

The impact on the psyche of the nation and the historical significance of the First World War cannot ever be denied, and it is essential young Australians continue to be taught about Anzac Day and the courage and sacrifice of those who fought and died. In forming our national identity, this event was more significant than Federation.

The author goes on to elaborate on the impact of Anzac on Australia and concludes with a commitment to world peace. He addresses opposing views as follows:

With the development of the national curriculum there has been some debate about whether important national days like Anzac Day and Remembrance Day glorify war and should be given less prominence in the classroom. There is a fringe view within the left that believes and advocates that Australian war memorials should be shut down and Anzac Day commemorations cancelled because they glamorise war. They say students should be taught to feel ashamed of the sacrifice of our forebears…

While the circumstances that led to the First World War are continually being debated, let us not fall into the trap of a “we know best” view of history with the great gift of hindsight.

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