Valentine, James: Gallipoli, the story we all grew up with

Valentine, James

Gallipoli: the story we all grew up with‘, Age, 26 April 2015

(Story has different titles in other Fairfax outlets.)

We are highlighting this one because of its remarkable resonance with the ideas that have been put forward on the Honest History site for the last 18 months. Essentially, it is about the way private family remembrance has been swamped.

Every media outlet, every gallery, every concert, every surf lifesaving club, every park, every council, every artist, every institution is marking this centenary. Individually, they probably all should. Collectively, it’s smothering me and any actual emotion I might feel.

I’m being told repeatedly what I should feel. Exactly how solemn I should be, which parts of the story I should mark and what lesson I should draw from them, how our nation was forged on these distant sands, what it meant for us all back home and on and again and over and again.

The fatigue may not be caused necessarily by this year. For 20 years we’ve been turning up the commemorative intensity … It is now blasphemous to critique Gallipoli. There is only the one view, the bowed head, the  remembrance of sacrifice, the formation of nation. Important, of course. Tragic, beyond understanding. But how much does this constant emphasis on Gallipoli overshadow everything else we did, that made us who we are? … It’s treason to suggest such things, because we can no longer question Gallipoli without implying a rejection of our Diggers, both then and now.


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