Riches, Leah & James Bennett: We can’t see the war for the memorials: balancing education and commemoration

Riches, Leah & James Bennett

We can’t see the war for the memorials: balancing education and commemoration‘, The Conversation, 25 July 2016

This article raises issues similar to those that have concerned Honest History over the last three years; some of its references are a bit dated. ‘In Australia the national fervour surrounding the Anzac centenary has made it easy’, the authors say, ‘to get lost in the “celebratory” nature of our remembering and this has frequently been at the cost of critical analysis’.

The final paragraph is debatable: ‘To quote a popular aphorism, the truth is always the first casualty in war. It requires determination and courage to tell the truth in the face of resolute forgetting.’

It could be argued – strongly – that the real issue is not ‘resolute forgetting’ but the peddling of one interpretation of our war history (heroism, sacrifice, service, died for our freedom, parochialism) instead of another, more honest interpretation (universal victimhood – soldiers, their families, their opponents, dying in vain, not confronting important questions – including whether they died in vain – and risking doing it all again).

David Stephens

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