Rundle, Guy: Anzac 2013

Rundle, Guy

The one day of pure form‘, Overland, 211, Winter 2013, pp. 61-64

The author argues that Anzac Day has previously been noted for ‘trumpeting of a white imperialism, for its militarism, for its idolisation of masculinity. Some of that remains, but in recent years ANZAC Day has been changed quite consciously to reflect – and construct – new sensibilities.’ He criticises the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website on how to organise an Anzac Day service for the ‘grimly hilarious’ tone of its template speeches, which range from ‘a sort of ecumenical pessimism in the address for service people’ to ‘the mildly fascistic speech for primary school students’. He concludes: ‘The speeches are noxious in their desire to use the latest war as a recruiting sergeant for the next’. (The website Rundle refers to is actually an Australian Army site accessible through the DVA site. The address ‘for service people’ could not be accessed on 22 September 2013 but is clearly widely used; see, for example, the Dawn Service at Cleveland, Queensland, in 2013.)

Rundle goes on to note that Anzac has become divorced from its original imperial context and has been linked successively to concepts of bravery, mateship and now cooperation and teamwork.

The more abstract and formal ANZAC grows, the greater the numbers who turn out for the day… The ANZAC Day ceremony has become a sort of black hole around which the constellation of Australian life circulates… There is no point trying to formulate a Left nationalist response to ANZAC. It will take everything you can tip into it. Nothing its most vociferous opponents could dream up would be as denigrating as the beer ads that trade off its aura. ANZAC Day remains an irreducibly paradoxical event that does not produce the easy results its boosters would like.

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