December 18 is the day that Australia should commemorate Gallipolli and not April 25 argues guest blogger Peter Martin.
The 25th April is the wrong ANZAC day.
Most of the participating counties of WW1 commemorate their dead on Armistice Day. The 11th November 1918 brought about the end of WW1. Armistice day was a good day. At least it was after 11o’clock when an end to the bloody carnage of the Western Front was finally called.
It would not be at all appropriate to commemorate the dead on the 28th July, the date of the start of the war. That would, rightly, lead to accusations of celebration and not commemoration.
So why is Australia an exception? Why does Australia commemorate its war dead, in the main, on the 25th April, the day of the landings at Gallipoli?
There was nothing good for many ANZACs, other Allied and Turkish soldiers, about the 25th April 1915. If Australia has to be different, then surely the 18th December would be a more appropriate Anzac Day. There is at least something good about that day, the day the last of the Allied troops were withdrawn from Gallipoli.
Those Australians who do march on the 25th April and attend dawn service would no doubt be at pains to say there was no celebration, just a commemoration. Don’t they see the problem with the choice of that date? Has it ever occurred to them that there should be a problem?
Any criticism of the manner of commemoration is deemed by some to be disrespectful and sacrilegious or even un-Australian or un-Kiwi. Those offended, however, often don’t see the criticism as separate to the individuals involved. It is all taken very personally . Anzac is fast becoming a dangerous militaristic tradition with any historical or political controversy often being airbrushed from the picture. That’s the objection.
Criticising ANZAC day, even the choice of day, can be a serious thing in Australia and New Zealand. It seen as a criticism about the exclusivity of a ‘legend’, which has been foolishly accepted to be a main part of Australia’s identity and of its birth as a nation. It is also a criticism of the folly of war.
There should not be even the slightest hint of a celebration. Can we really say there isn’t? Secondarily it is a criticism of Australia’s subordinate role in a senseless international conflict in which it need not have taken part.
By all means let us not forget the war dead at any time of the year. But let us get the date right for the main commemoration too. Dates do matter.
Peter Martin blogs on matters economic on his own site; petermartin2001.wordpress.com
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