An Anzac Day Protest – Fifty Years On

I am writing this post on Anzac Day mainly because, in this country I love, I am certain that our freedom has become so curtailed that no longer could I go out to the steps of the Town Hall with a poster and protest peacefully against the Anzac Day March as many of us did when I was a student fifty years ago.

I want to make it clear first, that my colleagues and I would never have protested against Services which honour our brave war dead in all wars. I greatly respect the concept of the Dawn Service. It is only the march through our streets and the ideology which supports it, which we then, and I now, ask people to reconsider.

I was spurred on to write this by the fact that yesterday, the day before Anzac Day 2014, the planets aligned in two coincidences.

One was a meeting with some fellow retirees, all of whom had been in productive and contributing careers. In the course of the planned discussion it was noted, and we reminisced, that University Students do not appear to have quite the same zest and interest in social protests as we did in days of yore. We could name many well known and later influential figures who had, from these beginnings, made a difference in our community.

I then heard the thoughts of the radio and television commentator Jonathan Green, very much younger than all of us, who was very clearly and succinctly presenting a view about Anzac Day much as my friends and I espoused in those long gone days.

Why is this day alleged to represent the nationhood of Australia when war is and must always be a memory of such horror and loss?

War time is never great. It means the death of many lovely young men and women on both sides of the conflict and the destruction of the lives of a great number of those who survive. It must always be regarded as a time for mourning and remembering, with love, those who suffered and died in conflict.

There is no room for glorification.

Yes, there should be a time to remember, with pride, individual acts of bravery. There is time to remember individual acts of self-sacrifice in all areas of human endeavour, both in wartime and on other occasions.

But when human beings have resorted to combat against one another instead of being able to sort out issues in a way that reflects what we regard as the difference between we humans and other species of animals who live on the planet, the memories must always be sad.

Remember all our fallen heroes with equal love and admiration, from the muddy trenches of Turkey, through the jungles of Vietnam, to the horrors of Afghanistan. Remember them by having ceremonies of remembrance, by laying wreaths, by helping returned veterans and their families as well as the families whose loved ones did not return.

But do not have a warmongering march each year. Much worse still, do not try to define our beautiful country, born through a history of successful negotiation between sovereign states, by its involvement in a war during an invasion of a foreign country whose citizens we have now come to like and admire.

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About Anne Powles

I am retired from paid employment. During my working life I have been variously and sometimes contemporaneously, wife, mother of four, lawyer, teacher and psychologist. I have also been a serial education junkie. As are we all, I have been an observer of the world around me. Here I have recorded some of my memories, observations and theorisings.
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2 Responses to An Anzac Day Protest – Fifty Years On

  1. Great piece! I agree entirely. Sadly, though, it’s war against which nations tend to define themselves.

  2. Anne Powles says:

    Yes, sadly I think you are right about that. It certainly is the case historically and it is a shame we have not grown beyond that.

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