ANZAC Day bitterness
I know ANZAC Day is over but reading The Drum I am moved to comment once more on the day. The Punch, being The Punch, has dug up a conscientious objector to denigrate all that is service to the country. I am ambivalent about these people and don’t despise or denigrate them but I do think they should be starved of oxygen and allowed to wither in their bitter memories without being heard. One of the comments left there struck a chord. Have a read of Mr Happy.
I have never marched and as a Vietnam vet ( 3RAR 1971) I say: what a huge relief that Anzac Day has come and gone. That highly stylized ritual massaged by well fed Anglo Celtic politicians, invoking Homeric images of the bronzed Anzac warrior, delivered with the sincerity and well rehearsed solemnity of undertakers presiding over a long dead corpse. The alleged ‘sacredness’ of the commemoration never fails to obscure the alternative narrative: In 1788 British settlers became the original ‘Fringe Dwellers’ with guns. Fanning out , they destroyed an advanced and diverse indigenous society. Later , they morphed into ‘Australians’ , and volunteered – sometimes with embarrassing alacrity – in a variety of imperial ventures or were complicit in the destruction of other people’s societies. Eg The Sudan, Boer War, Chinese Boxer Rebellion, invasion of Ottoman Turkey and, towards the end of WW1, even managed to squeeze in an invasion of the fledgling Soviet Republics. Then of course Korea, Vietnam, and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan . When this narrative supplants the state sponsored ‘dead corpse’ of Anzac Day, then, and only then will contemporary Australia achieve a measure of cultural sophistication, and embrace a more historically authentic story to commemorate service and sacrifice.I replied; Wow! I bet you’re a lot of fun at a party – maybe it’s a good thing you don’t join us on ANZAC Day. While we commemorate lost comrades and celebrate living ones you would be harping on the side about us invoking Homeric images of the bronzed Anzac warrior. I bet you were a hoot in your platoon. I don’t even know who your NCO was but I do feel sorry for him. Well written, bitter words that say more about you than those of us who served and choose to remember. Those who choose not to march and those who prefer not to remember at all, are used by the anti-military mob to suggest ANZAC Day is pointless or losing it’s significance. As in “My uncle never ever marched” It does nothing of the sort – it simply reflects that some are bitter, some are indifferent and some are still troubled by things they’ve seen and done. The majority, however choose to participate and I don’t think you should denigrate us for doing so. We served, we are proud that we did and if later in life you became bitter about it or earlier in life chose to avoid service for ideological or whatever reasons, then fine. If you despise ANZAC Day and what it represents so much then don’t talk about it. If we offend your sensibilities to such an extent that you think we shouldn’t have tried to stop Imperial Germany, Hitler, The Japs and assorted communists from taking over the world then retreat to your bitter bunker and stay silent while others secure your life style. Even though you have served and are obviously educated you still can’t work out that to achieve your measure of cultural sophistication you need soldiers to first secure the civilization.