Stephens, David: Shots across the bows: some Anzac weekend reading and listening

David Stephens*

‘Shots across the bows: some Anzac weekend reading and listening’, Honest History, 23 April 2021 updated

Just a very quick jog around the field, unfortunately. Wearing their Heritage Guardians hats, the Honest History elves have been busy finalising a submission to the National Capital Authority consultation on the $498m War Memorial building project. And that’s a saga in itself – and time-consuming.

Readers might be interested in these, mostly from the non-mainstream media:

  • from Inside Story: Anne-Marie Condé on a Tasmanian family’s Great War story; Mark Baker on the Fall of Singapore (also in the Canberra Times (paywall) IS insert);
  • from Pearls and Irritations: William De Maria on the Anzac Day Blues; Marilyn Lake on how our Anzac obsession blinds us to what was really important about early 20th century Australia; John Menadue on how we avoid thinking about the Frontier Wars; Douglas Newton on how to show true respect for the Anzacs; David Stephens on how the Australian War Memorial sanitises and distorts our wars, but how it might be improving; Sue Wareham on the undemocratic streak at the Memorial;
  • from The Conversation: Véronique Duché and Amanda Laugesen on reading and writing in the trenches; Romain Fathi on declining attendances at Anzac Day commemorative services (use Search function; 168 comments); Rowan Light on Anzac Day in New Zealand; Fiona McLeod on nurses on the Western Front; Georgia McWhinney on lice in the trenches; Gregory Moore on memorial groves;
  • from Late Night Live on ABC RN, 22 April: Douglas Newton on his new book on how the Allied powers connived to make the Great War last longer; Jon Piccini on the Ex-Service Human Rights Association of Australia; Peter Stanley on what is wrong with the big build at the War Memorial (see above);
  • from a young resident of Gaza, Loai Ahmed, who has been finding Anzac graves from the Great War (the link passed on by his mentor, Paul Costello; HH has drawn the author’s and mentor’s attention to the full story on the reputed words of Atatürk, mentioned in the article – lovely words, but very doubtful provenance);
  • from 2014 from a very wise West Point lecturer, Elizabeth Samet, on why American soldiers can never die in vain. We have quoted Samet before, in The Honest History Book, and we got the reference from James Brown in Anzac’s Long Shadow. The argument applies to Australia as much as it does to the United States, but the current imbroglio about Afghanistan war crimes makes answering the ‘did they die in vain?’ question even more poignant. Do men and women doing the right thing die in vain in conflict which also sees acts like those that may have been committed (innocent until proven guilty) by their comrades?

And one from the MSM, James Curran in the Australian Financial Review on how Anzac has been lost in the cult of veneration, with a final serve at the War Memorial project. (Pdf from our subscription.)

And Clare Wright repost from The Conversation 2015 on how people fought for freedom at home.

And another repost: David Stephens from the Daily Review 2017 on the difference between Anzackery and a useful Anzac.

And more on Anzac Day in Pearls and Irritations: Greg Lockhart; Henry Reynolds; Peter Stanley.

Plus Michael Tyquin in Independent Australia on getting beneath the Simpson and his donkey legend.

Finally, distinguished historians Bruce Scates and Jay Winter talk for more than an hour on the Anzac story.

* David Stephens is editor of the Honest History website and convener of the Heritage Guardians group, campaigning against the War Memorial project.

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