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The Wrong ANZAC Day

 

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 There is at least something good about that day, the day the last of the Allied troops were withdrawn from Gallipoli.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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18 comments

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  1. Peter Ball

    I have to agree , the real fighting was on the Western Front , and whilst we are at it , why are the 3rd , 5th and 11th Divisions of the WW2 so forgotten – its not good enough

  2. flohri1754

    A Poem for the 25th ….. from the Melbourne “Labor Call” 29 December 1910 …..

    War — Why ?

    Give me a gun,
    That I may blaze away
    At him whom I ne’er met before this day.
    Yea, e’en at him whose face I scarce can see, He, afar off, a thousand yards from me.
    Mad work? Yes tis, for both of us, poor fools —
    For me and him, both us merely fools.

    Give him a gun,
    That he may fire at me
    If chance he gets. For that–let fate decree!
    He’s but a blot, a dot upon earth’s crust.
    But now ’tis me or him must bite the dust.
    Quarrel? Not me; ne’er met the man before;
    We’re simply fools and tools, I say once more.

    Arm both of us,
    That each may shoot at each.
    At home–his home and mine–the parsons preach
    “All men are brothers,” That I don’t deny.
    But it ’tis so, then I would ask you–Why
    We should be faced now, stranger friend and me,
    Having no quarrel? ‘Cause tis fools we be.

    Give me my sight!
    That’s right!

    Mate, give me thy hand!
    At last we understand;
    Guns, bayonets, swords, cannon, and all hell’s tools, These no men need when human reason rules.
    They home is thine; sacred they fatherland.
    Mine doubly safe, while true to Right we stand.
    Hell’s agents only–Vice, Ambition, Greed–
    Thy foes and mine: from these we’ll now be freed!

    Arthur Laycock.

  3. Wally

    Why would we change what we have done for a century? If it isn’t broken leave it alone and go find something that does need to be fixed. As for how/why/when the rest of the world remember their fallen service people who bloody cares. We are Australian, we are unique and a big part of our heritage has been successful at doing things our own way.

    How many ANZAC marches have you marched in Peter Martin? Have you ever played in a brass band or marched in place of a sick or dead ancestor? A lot of people have much to say about ANZAC day but they have never actually been involved.

  4. S.W .Mathers

    I salute all those defense personnel who served and are still serving, so that we can still have freedom to express our thoughts. What a senseless waste of life on all sides, it brings me to tears to see just how many died and were injured in two world wars and the horrific conditions they lived through. There is no doubt about the courage of these young men & women, and if we chose to honour their memory and sacrifice on the 25th April, so be it, as we also do on the 11th November in the UK.. I served in the RAF, post war in Germany and as a very young man, it remains a vivid memory still.

  5. eli nes

    arguably the ballot and the reserved seats politicised the 100 year anniversary. I wrote many letters and many posts about how important the turks were to Australia, making this a joint effort. They very rarely got a like and often negative ‘you bloody idiot we were fighting them’ but the thought that 25 march 2015 should be people free got the simpleton cake.

  6. stephentardrew

    How about spending a substantial amount of the money for ANZAC Day on our veterans.

    So much grandstanding, so much hypocrisy, and so little direct action.

    Having worked many years in Veteran recovery the lack of assistance and adequate resources is glaring. It reeks of US patriotism while those sent to war are merely pawns in a political game of brinkmanship. My parade is bigger than yours while returned serves women and men continue to suffer. As usual dumb compliance by the public and broad complicity by the media. At least this article discloses social indoctrination for what it is.

    Let’s be honest about it war is an abomination and many of our wars have been unjust and unwarranted including ANZAC cove. How do you think returned servicewomen and men feel when they discover they were duped by deceitful and lying governments. Meanwhile George Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, John Howard and others walk free with massive pensions and gratuities while soldiers suffer the consequences. No one was jailed or publicly censured for Iraq as none of the greed infested bankers and financiers went to jail for the GFC.

    Many of our citizens are a dumb bunch of compliant autonomous robots.

    Homeless Diggers reveal Australia’s double standards

    Date: April 25, 2015 – 12:15AM

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/homeless-diggers-reveal-australias-double-standards-20150424-1mpicz.html

  7. Leonie Parker

    Sometimes I wonder what the original ANZAC’S would think about today’s ‘celebrations’, and sometimes I just wish ….

    Sometimes I wish…

    My granddad’s wartime medals disappeared one long gone day.
    I guess some family member grabbed them when he passed away.
    Whenever I see medals in an op shop anywhere
    I wonder if they’re Granddad’s, but I don’t think he would care.

    He never put much store in ‘things’, that’s what he always said.
    He kept them in an old tobacco tin beneath his bed.
    While others wore them proudly Grandad always bucked the trend,
    was scathing of their pompousness right to the bitter end.

    He never marched on Anzac Day though I think he was there,
    he never talked about it so I never was aware
    of just what he had suffered or how many friends he’d lost,
    and if I asked he’d only say, “Too many, to my cost.”

    I know he spent some time in France; he spoke a word or two,
    would often greet me with a short “Comment appelez-vous”,
    and though I studied French at school (some fifty years ago),
    that little phrase of his is still the only one I know.

    Whenever I’d ask questions he’d distract me with a joke,
    like many others of his time he was the sort of bloke
    whose dinner conversation would be safe for little ears
    and if they talked about ‘the war’ it was just with their peers.

    I think he tried to teach me that we shouldn’t worship war.
    He was a man before his time; I wish that there were more.
    He blamed the many leaders of the world for all the strife
    but I was far too young to understand his view of life.

    I think that it would sadden him to see we haven’t learned.
    I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t like the way the world has turned.
    His generation’s sacrifice was meant to see war gone.
    He’d be so disappointed that it’s all still going on.

    He’d shake his head to see us sending emails by the ton,
    extolling brave combatants of a war that can’t be won.
    Although he’s gone these many years I still can hear his voice.
    He always said that peace on earth in truth comes down to choice.

    But poets write their poetry, and singers sing their songs.
    A new crop of world leaders talk of heroes righting wrongs
    and there can be no winners though they try to tell us so.
    Sometimes I wish we’d all join hands and just refuse to go.

    Leonie Parker

  8. petermartin2001

    There’s no “like” button to click so I’ll have to say it words:

    I liked your poems, Leonie and flohri1754 !

  9. Wally

    @Leonie Parker I respect your Grandads wishes not to take part in ANZAC day I think it is a very personal thing but for many years I played in brass bands at numerous ANZAC marches every year as well as the main parade in Melbourne. Thousands of returned soldiers would gather every year and they enjoyed seeing old mates they had fought beside, the sense of comradeship was immense. They were certainly not there to glorify war or to make themselves feel good, they were there to remember those not so lucky, those who did not come back home.

    War is extremely sad and every year there are less service men and woman marching so it is even more important for their descendants to keep the spirit of ANZAC alive so we are constantly reminded of the stupidity of war. If our ancestors did not stand firm and unite to defeat the Germans in WWI and WWII we would not be free to have different opinions today, we would not have the lives we enjoy. At some stage your Grandad decided going to war to fight for his country was the right thing to do and all we do as a nation on ANZAC day is thank him and his mates for their sacrifice.

    Some of the commercialisation by TV stations is over the top and some people miss the point but at the end of the day we are what we are as a nation because of the ANZACS and no one should ever deny us our heritage be it good or bad. My Grandad fought in WWII and never spoke about it very much but he always marched on ANZAC day until he was too ill to do so.

  10. Faye Cox

    As always, what I remember on any day that “commemorates ” is that no recognition is ever given to those who were forbidden, because of their protected occupation to “sign up” My father was one of those not permitted to go to War and he was ashamed of that for the rest of his life. He too made a sacrifice, not through his choice and it’s about bloody time that he, too got some credit !

  11. mars08

    Wally:

    ….we are what we are as a nation because of the ANZACS…

    Oh…. ffs… Get a grip, you clueless clown!

  12. Wally

    @mars08 I am happy to read other peoples opinions and give them consideration but there is no point answering the criticism of an idiot who cannot even include an argument to support their opinion. But why worry about debating facts when you can attack and attempt to belittle someone who’s opinion you disagree with. Very constructive!

  13. mars08

    ….we are what we are as a nation because of truck drivers, nurses, teachers, bricklayers, dentists, etc…

    I don’t want to debate “facts” with you, Wally. Other than the fact that you are a tedious, disingenuous tool. And that FACT speaks for itself.

  14. Wally

    @mars08 Is it because you are rude, arrogant or ignorant you believe your opinion carries more weight than everyone else’s?

    During WWI and WWII it was the truck drivers, nurses, teachers, bricklayers, dentists, etc. who went to war that forged the ANZAC spirit and as Faye Cox commented those who were not allowed to go to war felt cheated despite the fact that they fulfilled essential roles at home that assisted the war effort. And honestly mars08 if you don’t like my comments DON’T read them!

  15. mars08

    I wish it was that easy to ignore your comments Wally… but they are like a endless churning train wreck. I can’t help but watch.

    As for your feeble attempt to justify your “ANZACs made this nation what it is” brainfart… I’m putting that down to your disingenuous streak.

    BTW…. is there any room for women or post-war immigrants in your glorious nation builders mental masturbation?

  16. Wally

    @mars08 “is there any room for women or post-war immigrants in your glorious nation builders mental masturbation” if you put as much effort into understanding my comments as you put into insulting me you might actually see the full picture.

    Woman were included in the ranks of the ANZACs and many of the ANZACs in WWI were immigrants so they were never overlooked.

    Belittling other people doesn’t make you look smarter it shows others that you are intellectually challenged and insecure.

  17. mars08

    You didn’t answer my question you tool.

    Yoou again demonstrated you disingenuous streak. I wasn’t asking for more of your Anzac Übermensch foolishness.

    I was asking about the contribution of women to building the nation we have today. What about the role of post-war immigrants and their contribution? You responded with some pabulum about the current incarnation of the Anzac myth.

    Are you always this tedious and vapid Wally. Or is it a persona you reserve for this forum?

  18. mars08

    Belittling other people doesn’t make you look smarter it shows others that you are intellectually challenged and insecure.

    Yes indeed. Point well made, Socrates.

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