‘True meaning of Anzac Day‘, Canberra Times, 7 May 2013
The author writes of a relative, disabled in the Vietnam War. His article warns about overglamourising Anzac Day, risking the loss of its real meaning, and confusing the rituals appropriate to a modern professional army with the remembrance of volunteer forces in past wars. The author describes an Anzac Day tribute to his relative after his death.
The men who arranged this wonderful tribute to Joe exemplified the true spirit of Anzac Day. Theirs was not some confected emotion, some theme park tinkering. These men had been proud to serve with Joe, had grieved for him in his appalling wounds and shattered life, respected his family in their grief and caring, and done what they could for him and were proud to march on their day beside him.
Australians need to be very careful with Anzac Day. We speak with respect of those who were killed and we honour their sacrifice. We need to enter, deeply, into the grief that their loss caused and which might continue even beyond the first generation. We need to remember those whose lives were ruined by war and the long, lingering years in which they were forgotten but to a few. We need to be concerned about the effect on the lives of those who care for them and sustain them…
The emotions of Anzac Day are complex and varied. They must never be fake or contrived. We must never confuse the commemoration of Anzac Day with a celebration of our military and their service in war and peace. The military have their own appropriate and legitimate ways of doing this; their own ceremonies and rituals. Anzac Day is about their stories but it is not about them and if we blur the lines we diminish the day for everyone. Anzac Day is about men who served with blokes like Joe and honour their memory.