The spirit of ANZAC: include our indigenous people

John Stevens, Mullumbimby

This is a letter written following the Mullumbimby ANZAC service.

As the last post sounded the crowd hushed and fell silent for the minute of deep reflection that was asked for; a lone voice yelled out interrupting the peace and reflection.

A man shouted out with controlled anger that all of us were on Aboriginal land and not showing respect. The crowd murmured and shuffled a little uncomfortably with, and many disapproving of, the intrusion into their personal demonstration of respect for the spirit of ANZAC.

It caused me to reflect that the lone voice was correct. There was within this ceremony no welcome to country, no acknowledgement of our Indigenous heritage or the struggle Indigenous people endured and still endure, marginalised by a type-of war that imposed a political system and people they never invited to this place. Most importantly in regards this ceremony, Indigenous servicemen and women have, like all, other Australians served, fought and died for our country in the very same wars we were remembering and at which my grandfathers and father served.Revile sounded.

We were called back from our silent reflection to hear the New Zealand national anthem in honour of the fallen New Zealand Māori people who served in these wars.

I thank that man for his controlled demonstration. It was brave and right. It reminded me that we still have much work to do to heal the trauma and damage done on home soil – our country – their country.

Lest we forget.


One response to “The spirit of ANZAC: include our indigenous people”

  1. Jill Keogh says:

    I hear you John Stevens, having grown up singing ‘Maori Battalion march to victory, Maori Battalion staunch and true…etc etc as a school kid in Aoteoroa.

    Australians are a good-hearted people when they have the right information. I suspect that was not the case here.

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