From the Honest History Archives: Will you be whistling this sentimental ditty for Anzac Day 2016?

Added to our collection ‘From the Honest History Archives: five April takes on Anzac and Anzackery‘ is a link to extracts from a speech by Honest History committee member, Carolyn Holbrook, in Fremantle about this time last year. We noted the speech particularly because of Dr Holbrook’s remarks about the music which has been produced to mark the Anzac centenary, notably the work of country and western singer, Lee Kernaghan, who has since won various awards for his Anzac material, particularly the album, ‘Spirit of the Anzacs’.

While we respect Mr Kernaghan’s work for charity, we cannot help noticing that his standard get-up, notably the ten-gallon hat, smacks more of Muskogee, Oklahoma, than Tamworth, NSW. Perhaps this is appropriate, given the imperial contexts – first British, now American – of Australia’s wars. (An earlier video from Mr Kernaghan (‘Ute Me’) which includes an Australian flag. An even earlier one – note the Army choppers. What point is being made?)

The other important part of the original post was this remark from Dr Holbrook: ‘I had heaps of people come up to me after the speech and say thank you and you are brave to speak out – I feel the same but I am scared to say anything about all this Anzac stuff because you get criticised!’ Honest History believes things have changed a lot in the last twelve months as we pass ‘Peak Anzac’ but would love to hear from people who have been monstered for exercising their democratic right not to accept the received view of Anzac or indeed not to sing along with Mr Kernaghan. There are many better ways of respectfully remembering than this sentimental (and subtly political – ‘sons and daughters rising to the call’, all the way from Anzac to Afghanistan) schmaltz.

Read more …

Dr Holbrook’s complete speech is here. Also relevant to music and war. And an anti-war song.

David Stephens

17 April 2016


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