‘Nelson flying wrong flags‘, Canberra Times, 26 April 2013
Columnist critical of new Australian War Memorial Director for allegedly ill-judged changes at the Memorial also makes some general points about commemoration and the role of Anzac.
The last generation of an Australian citizen army is now in its 90s. Perhaps 5 per cent of the nation have a living family member who has actually been in active service. It was once close to 100 per cent.
The relationship between citizen and military service is now fundamentally different from 20, 40 or 60 years ago. Yet the rites and rituals of Anzac move more people every year, with the next four years, which include the centenary of Anzac two years hence, likely to continue the trend.
Politicians and military leaders have not caused the movement. But they are now seeking to harness it, to channel and discipline it, and, with some, to have it play a part in a war some regard as equally important – the culture wars.
The writer opposes turning Anzac into a religious rite or pseudo-patriotic cult. He compares feelings about Anzac across classes and across religions over the years and compares the attitudes of front line soldiers to those of the politicians who sent them to fight.