I spent today mostly with my daughter and in doing so could not have felt any more far removed from war, despite being surrounded and bombarded by its imagery for a number of weeks. I’ve seen ANZAC Day conflated with everything from supermarkets to fitness regimes. It’s gone beyond something I can ever relate to and has been turned into some commercial, plastic carnival.
On a day synonymous with the phrase “Lest We Forget” – I think we forgot.
A centenary on and Galipoli has been transformed into a myth that’s far removed from reality.
It was the moment that defined the Australian Nation.
If you were going to pick something from that era that defined Australia it wouldn’t be Galipoli. It would be what happened after the war. The rebuilding of a shattered society. Of repairing towns missing an entire generation of men. Of broken families that decided to mend and move on. Of mental anguish that destroyed not only individuals but enter families. It’s a story of women who sacrificed as much as the men. Women who had to clean up, recover and survive. Of a society that self medicated with booze and drank it the pain away. A society that embraced the surface dwelling larrikin as a mascot rather than confront the demons deep down and suppressed. It’s a white story too. One where we continued to not even recognise nations in our own county as actual people for another 50 years. A repressive, regressive nation that is yet to reconcile it’s mongrel beginnings.
Anzac Day doesn’t have to reflect any of that, but what it should, it doesn’t.
If it’s about remembering then let it be about that. Let’s not cram it in to a dawn service that takes grief and turns it into a well choreographed spectacle. Let’s not cram all that remembering into a morning so that we can fit in a footy match, get some shopping done and round it all out with a gamble.
What does that “remember”?