Lest We Forget: three images for ANZAC day

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Anzac Cove, by ccarlstead
originally uploaded by ccarlstead

  • There’s been some mutterings this week about whether the growing Anzac Day event at Gallipoli Cove is beginning to overshadow the remembrance services here at home. Sounds like a beat-up to me – there’s a big difference between a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage and the annual remembrance in our own communities. There’s no reason at all that people can’t do both in a lifetime of honouring the sacrifice of those who served. Still, there are environmental considerations with the growing crowds: perhaps we need more encouraging of pilgrims to visit Anzac Cove at other times of year instead of only around Anzac Day.
  • Coloured Diggers Project – overdue recognition

    “We know that there’s just a huge number of Aboriginal people who fought overseas, (and) we want to make sure that we identify the tribal nation group that our people fought for,” organiser Ray Minniecon said.

    Details of the Redfern event for Anzac day here.

    Captain Reg Saunders
    portrait by Pamela Thalben-Ball,
    Captain Reg Saunders

    Reg Saunders was one of the few publicly acknowledged indigenous soldiers in the Australian infantry. He was a career soldier and the first ever indigenous officer. Infamously, he was unable to buy a beer in a pub back here in Australia, and was never given a military pension. His relatives, and the relatives of other indigenous soldiers, are lobbying for a special memorial for indigenous soldiers, as their names are not included on many (most?) regional war memorials around the country.

Other special remembrances this year will be special services in Melbourne to mark the discovery of the sunken HMAS Sydney, in Picardy to mark the 90th anniversary of the liberation by Diggers of the French village of Villers-Bretonneux, and on the Queensland Gold Coast to mark the death of Trooper David Pierce in Afghanistan last year.

Lest We Forget.

* My 2007 ANZAC Day post.
* My 2006 ANZAC Day posts 1 and 2

Categories: ethics & philosophy, history, relationships

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12 replies

  1. I was astonished by this piece in the NZ Herald, where the writer (a rabid right wingnutter) talked about the stone he had picked up at Anzac Cove, and brought home. Not enough to go there and bow his head; he had to do his little bit to destroy the place while he was at it.
    I’m not all that keen on official Anzac Day ceremonies….
    Deborah’s last blog post..ANZAC Day Atheist

  2. We will be reminded that such sacrifices should never be for unworthy causes.
    YES. This was such a huge part of all our ANZAC day lessons when I was at school: we learned that the losses were all the greater because so many wars in which we had participated achieved nothing but unnecessary death. It seems like today that that narrative has changed, at least from what I’ve seen– there is a sort of backwards logic at work that suggests that because these soldiers were brave (and nobody doubts that), then the cause that they were fighting for must have been worth it.

  3. Nice post, tigtog, and nice photos too, especially that first one. Here’s <a href=”http://tbn0.google.com/images?q=tbn:_1fKX320SU8A8M:http://bp0.blogger.com/_8_Q15U1xG7s/Ri5jw791x3I/AAAAAAAAA6U/FD44SHN4Cws/s400/ANZAC3.jpg” rel=”nofollow”>another photo that I found inspiring (it’s not very big though)
    Scotty’s last blog post..Lest We Forget

  4. Beppie: I too noticed that the ceremonies and speeches seemed to have shifted from sorrow toward a “glory of the military” emphasis during the Howard years. I wonder if that trend will reverse?

  5. Hmmm… the same glorification has happened in New Zealand, so I don’t think it’s a Howard thing.
    Deborah’s last blog post..ANZAC Day Atheist

  6. Mark’s got an excellent post at LP examining the change in the commemorations for ANZAC day over the last decade and a bit.
    And David Tiley writes in comments there, this fabulous paragraph (emphasis mine):

    I keep plugging away, every Anzac and Armistice Day, on posts that reflect the way that these “heroic” horrors which focus on the men in the trenches engulfed entire peoples, and put everyone to sorrow. We ask our fathers what it was like, and allow our mothers to watch, silent at the end of the table.

  7. Yes I loved David’s comment.
    My grandparents met in the aftermath of Flanders. My grandmother, a scotswoman, nursed my grandfather. She was not a woman to sit silently at the table for anyone and when her husband and older sons said they were joining up for WWII she got down the shotgun and chased them from the farm, which was failing and had been forever. My grandfather had her committed to an asylum where she died at the age of 40, leaving behind 8 children, the youngest of whom was 3. She did not live to see one of her sons commit suicide, having survived the war but not the postwar psychosis and it would have broken her heart to see what happened to her daughters.
    I don’t subscribe to the Anzac legend. I hate the way it creates martyrs and saints whose veneration effaces the violent trauma inflicted on the living and passed on down through the generations.

  8. I find myself subscribing to the original idea of the Dawn service on ANZAC day, as a commemoration by the survivors to honour their dead comrades and be in the company of their comrades-in-arms who shared their experiences, their traumas and their ongoing consequences from their time at war (even if such things culturally tended to be unspoken, it was a large part of the camaraderie of the day originally). Originally there were no parades, just a gathering of comrades. What the day has become is a different and sometimes disturbing thing.
    My grandfather was too young for the Great War, but four of his older brothers went. One died. Another came home to essentially be a ghost in his family – he was emotionally a hollow shell. The other two managed to cope with the aftermath at least to the standards required of polite society – they didn’t embarrass other people with their emotional wounds. ETA: I know their stories, but I don’t know the stories of how their wives coped with the strangers who returned home.
    In Australia our domestic civilians have largely been spared full embroilment in the wars that our troopers went away to (and when they weren’t, our government didn’t let the rest of the country know). The stories of the women who coped with the hollow men who came home, or who were flung into widowhood with young children to care for, are very much thrown aside in the concentration purely on the sacrifice of the troops.
    su, how horrid that your grandmother was institutionalised by your grandfather. I guess one can’t know for certain that she wasn’t unbalanced in other areas in addition to being understandably passionately opposed (and rationally so) to her husband and sons going to war, but it certainly fits into the common ethos of institutional ostracisation of “uppity” women.

  9. Going by the numbers at icasualties.org, if today was like any average 24-hour period from March 2008, 1 American soldier, 5 soldiers from the Iraqi Security Forces, and at least 27 Iraqi civilians were killed. 19 US prisoners died. 500 died in Darfur. 1450 women died in childbirth. 41 000 children starved to death, many of them in war-torn areas.
    We shall remember them.

  10. Hear, hear.

    All of them, not just the ones in uniforms.

    We will remember them.

  11. Here’s an image from the Coloured Digger March from this ABC story:

    Indigenous veterans at the start of the Coloured Diggers March.
    (ABC: Michael Janda)

  12. Tigtog, that’s a great picture. I can’t say the same for the comments on the ABC story page – the assimilationists are out in force.

    ”This type of separation is divisive and everyone should march together.”
    “does it realy help reconciliation and respect if they have a coloured only march?”
    “They give me the impression “sometimes” They are their own worst enemy, with their separate way of doing things Like marching in Redfern”

    Finally someone has stepped up and pointed out that they weren’t even considered human citizens of Australia until 1967 – so yes, the Indigenous diggers did fight under very different conditions.