David Stephens of Honest History analyses last week’s National Press Club address by the Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson. The speech was called ‘Tragedy and triumph – 1917’ and looked at Passchendaele and Beersheba, two key military events of 1917.
The speech had good and bad points. Stephens concluded:
While the 19 September effort obviously tugged at the heartstrings of those present – there was a standing ovation, after all – it also brought to mind the strictures of philosopher Raimond Gaita, writing in the latest issue of Meanjin about ‘truth in the time of Trump’. ‘To think well’, says Gaita, ‘ we must … develop an ear for tone, for what rings false, for what is sentimental or has yielded to pathos and so on’. Without such a sensibility ‘we are easy prey for demagogues’. It is imperative also to be able ‘to distinguish … grief from maudlin self-indulgence’. Indeed.
The post links to an extraordinary set of photographs on the Inside Canberra website. There is also a note about the Polygon Wood commemoration of this week.
28 September 2017