On ANZAC Day….
With less than a week to go, ANZAC day hype is reaching fever pitch. Never has ANZAC day been a bigger commemoration than this, the 100th anniversary of our troops landing at Gallipoli. I’ve been an ANZAC day attendee most of my life, and definitely all of my adult life, and each year the attendance at the services grows. Why do think that is?
I’m in two minds – I definitely think that this centennial milestone is a huge one – 100 years has passed since our soldiers landed at ANZAC cove. Time has passed, yet the faces looking at us from the photographs of the soldiers who went are as familiar to us as the man who sells us our newspaper on a Sunday morning. Their names remain in our consciousness, their ages have the capacity to horrify us, their stories to stir pride. There is a horror and a glory to war that is far beyond my ability to describe.
I also think that there’s a safety in time passing – immediately after the war, the shock and grief may have meant that commemorations were too difficult, and generations had been raised with the ‘stiff upper lip’ philosophy, which meant that while respect was afforded to those who sacrificed, dwelling was not an option. Enough distance has passed since the end of WWI that we can look back and appreciate what they gave, and hope to understand what the soldiers and their families went through. We’ve had a resurgence of patriotism (as discussed here) which I think has led to more pride in our ANZACs than ever before.
We live in a world where terrorism is increasing. War has evolved and we live in fear. We see the horrors of what happens in war-torn countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Ukraine) and it gives us more empathy for what our forebears lived through. Or died doing.
Whatever the reason, ANZAC day is growing in popularity and in its sense of reverence. We appreciate the sacrifices made by our soldiers (in WWI, WWII, and various theatres of war right up to and including the recent losses in Afghanistan), and are growing to understand what has been best said by Charles Province:
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
Charles Michael Province