Looking at ANZAC Day in a new way

2015 is the 100th anniversary of Anzac Day.

The federal government has set aside $140 million dollars to fund events commemorating the landings at Gallipoli.

Everything from museums and monuments, to a naval re-enactment in Albany WA is planned. Children of all ages will be encouraged to partake in public events and displays, while for slightly older children, Defence Force recruitment videos will feature prominently.

The government plans to bolster and reaffirm the spirit of Anzac!

As a former member of the regular Australian Army, I feel something of the emotion that attaches to this tradition. Like many, I was encouraged from childhood to view Anzac Day as an integral part of my cultural identity. Part of ‘being Australian’ included a solemn sense of pride in our country’s wartime experience.

Since serving in the military however, my attitude has changed.

I now believe that inspiring a country to view as part of its identity, a military tradition of ‘going to war’ can be immensely useful to government. Having a willing army of volunteers to help ingratiate Australia to our rich and powerful allies is clearly a benefit to some – though not to all!

A nation conditioned to value the sacrifice of family and loved ones in such a way as to want to mimic their example, is the basis of any militarised state. By exploiting the trauma that Anzac Day was originally intended to address, our government has accustomed us to travelling vast distances to kill people who pose no threat.

My hope is that 2015 will mark a different struggle for Australia’s cultural identity. Not another foreign war, but a peaceful tussle of liberation. An emancipation from the desire to travel for a fight. We should still remember our fallen, though with a desire to learn more peaceful ways to live.

Indeed, if Australia’s fallen could talk to us from the grave, I believe they would speak not of bravery and daring, but of the love they left behind. They would talk not of war, but of peace.

R J Poole, Lismore


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