Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Nature of Anzac Day - an abomination.

Well, I have published my opinion on Miss Eagle's Blog, so I ought do it here, too. Her tribute and comment on Anzac Day is far more considered, and more erudite than mine - I recommend it to all readers.

I was saddened to hear of the accidental death of a young Australian Soldier in Iraq (no doubt we all were).

The most tragic thing is - he should not have been there in the first place. All other circumstances aside, that is the responsibility of the Government of Mr John Howard!

I accept responsibility for that comment.

I am sitting here, being made ill by listening to the televised Anzac Day service from Kokoda Trail. Those who know me from years ago will recall that I lived (for 27 years) on Anzac Parade, Reid, Canberra - half-way down the processional avenue where Anzac Day is "celebrated".

I cannot bear to hear an Anzac Day Ceremony begin with the words from the Religious Celebrant (who is this person?) starting with these words: "The world has drunk deep of Australian Blood".

A direct quote --- A direct quote!

Very simply, the young Australian who died in Iraq ought not have been there.

Some of us said the young soldiers should not go there - in the first place. We were ignored by our Government.


Too many "burn-offs" by F111s, and FA18s. Too many Tanks thundering up the Parade, at full speed. The endless drubbing of Helicopter blades is etched in my mind. And I have never seen a moment's "Service". Anzac Day has been done to death - quite literally.

Tools of death on display do not represent any kind of tribute to Peace - they are a display of determined, aggressive posturing. These displays are designed, psychologically, to "egg on" the young and the naive. And our politicians are always there - overseeing everything. Funding everything. Promoting everything. And the Generals smile benignly, knowing each resounding successful show (records* reported every year) it assures them of years' worth of future funding.

Even today, I saw Joe Hockey and Kevin Rudd, out-competing eachother in reciting the nauseating "I am, You are, We are Australians" - well, at least nauseating when used in those circumstances. Apparently it is officially known as "I am Australian", but the first site I found attributed it to "The Seekers" back in the 60s. I thought it was written later, by Bruce Woodley. Enough of that!

I am scarred by memories of my former neighbour (an ex-Colonel) bragging to me at how he and some of him "mates" had jeered at the "Women against Rape in War", and chased them down the road - for "dishonouring Anzac Day". One of the more memorable Anzac Day Ceremonies (disasters) I managed to miss. Who dishonoured it, I ask?

And more harrowing still is the memory of a man of my own age "howling at the moon", at the (then) newly inaugurated Vietnam War memorial. A man of my own age, and position in society - totally losing it, in public, in the middle of the night. There before the harsh flood-lights, reflected in the polished granite wall with the image of the Bell Iroquios Helicopter, and the names of the dead. No wonder they hate the sound of those Machines of Death.

I have the greatest sympathy for the family of the young soldier who died in Iraq. I do not mean to dishonour his memory. Far from it. Would it not have been better that he were alive, today with his family, still in Australia? Who can tell me otherwise?

Denis Wilson

* Footnote: I wrote Press Releases for a living for years, for Government Departments and other Agencies. I would love to know when the "record attendances at Anzac Day" press reports are written. I would guess they change last year's numbers about Thursday of the week before - based upon the weather forecasts. The media gratefully accept the published figures - they love a "record" story to run with. The Police concur politely. It helps their overtime budget too, you know.

The Commercial Media are fully "on board" with this jingoism, as evidenced by this morning's bit of Show Biz on Kokoda Trail. The Military/Industrial complex has merged interests with the Commercial Media, I fear.



Unknown said...

Over at Chris McCarthy's blog, Macca's Musings at, is a report on his first visit to the Dawn Service in Canberra this morning. You and I, Denis, are not alone: honouring the fallen, but querying the celebration.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks for the tip. I enjoyed his writing, and agree with the ambiguity he has so nicely expressed.