On Anzac Day

When I was at university back in the ’80s it became de rigueur to mock celebratory days like Anzac Day.

People spoke in slogans to voice their disdain -

Don’t glorify war

War Is Not Pro-Life

War is futile

To me all the naysayers seemed to be missing the point. Anzac Day and days like it are not a publicity opportunity for the war machine, they are all about the remembering. They are all about honouring the ordinary people just like you and me who were placed in extraordinary situations. Situations which were frightening, challenging; situations that were all to do with living and dying.

What must it have been like to be 18 years old and landing in a foreign country, sick of the endless days of being in the trenches, devastated to see your brothers falling at your feet? I cannot imagine the fear and despair.

Yet despite the bloodiness of campaigns like Gallipoli, in spite of the huge numbers of lives lost on both sides; people still speak of the camaraderie that existed between Australian and New Zealand troops, of the brotherhood that was borne on that day. People still speak of the never-giving-up, of the courage.

That’s why we recognise this day.

That’s why we march.

That’s why we remember.

I would like to say to the ANZACS today – THANK YOU.

For everything.

I won’t ever forget you.

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30 responses to “On Anzac Day

  1. You are spot-on, Selma – it’s about commemoration, not glorification – some of the oldest diggers have voiced their feelings that war is a terrible thing and that it’s without glory.

    • I don’t think anyone who has gone to war would espouse the benefits of war, Bluebee. You are so right. It IS all about the commemoration.

  2. You are so right Selma, it is about the courage and the sacrifice, not about the morality of war itself. The same issues arose during the Vietnam years here in The States, soldiers returned home to find they were a painful reminder of a war that many of us didn’t believe in. They were insulted and treated badly. It left a lifetime of scars and hurt that only in recent years has begun to be repaired. Most of those who served had no choice about doing so… we can hate the deed, and still love those who gave the ultimate sacrifce while doing it. Great post!

    • I believe the same thing happened here, Josie. I know a couple of Vietnam vets who were spat on when they returned home to Sydney. It’s awful, isn’t it? I know that there were a lot of other issues in the Vietnam War that the public objected to, but there is no excuse for spitting on someone. Soldiers deserve our respect!

  3. You’re right Selma, it is rememberance of what they gave up and what they gave us :freedom:

    Our rememberance day is in Nov and the slogan here is “Lest We Forget”. It won’t be long now before all those that fought will be gone. We need this rememberance to make sure we DON’T forget.

    I look at young men here nowadays and I can’t imagine an 18 year old doing this. They sent babies to fight a war they didnt understand. That’s what we need to remember so it never, ever happens again.

    • I agree, Cathy. My son will be 16 next month and I think: “How would he cope fighting in a war?’ My heart aches for any Mum sending her son off to war. I couldn’t stand the worrying. I always think of that when Anzac Day comes around. How did all the Mums cope?

  4. I agree Selma. Remembering the sacrifices of others allows us to stay grounded and realize the freedoms and joys that we are afforded.

    • Absolutely. That is such a crucial point, Slamdunk. Remembering does keep us grounded. That is very important!

  5. My father was a veteran and a man who hated war. We must remember the soldiers who fight, you are correct.

  6. Oh, Selma! Right on.

    “They are all about honouring the ordinary people just like you and me who were placed in extraordinary situations. Situations which were frightening, challenging; situations that were all to do with living and dying.”


    • I know, Meleah. Imagine if it was our boys going off to war…. I couldn’t stand it. I have such respect for the parents of soldiers. I don’t know how they do it.

  7. i honor them too because what they did gives courage to the human spirit
    so i wish you happiness on anzac day!

  8. How true Selma…such days are not about the wars but those who served the country with honor.

  9. One of the things I like most about blogs is the constant reminder of how much alike we all are. Remembering the sacrifice is not glorifying the war. In fact, the attention paid to the fallen and wounded serves to show the opposite. Great post.

    • That is just such a fantastic point, writingfeemail. We are all so alike. Blogging has reinforced my faith in humanity to quite a large extent. There are a lot of like-minded people out there. It makes me feel better about the state of the world!

  10. The naysayers are still naying I’m afraid and they really are missing the point as you have pointed out! Turning your back on ANZAC day is akin to turning your back on the sacrifices the soldiers have made in the past (and today) – I don’t understand the mentality. There will always be wars and always a need for armies, unfortunately. I believe the only time humans won’t fight each other, is if we have a bigger foe (an alien invasion) and we are forced to work together to fight the alien invaders. Great post Selma :)

    • The naysayers really get on my goat, Gabe. I just think it’s so mean-spirited. And ill-informed. The only good thing about the naysayers is that they spend so much time whingeing and complaining that they give off a lot of hot air – which makes them an easy target for aliens with their heat seeking human detection units. The naysayers will be abducted straight away (when the aliens come) and hopefully anally probed 8O :lol:

  11. I hate the way in which countries can call on their citizens to fight wars. They then have the conflict situation where their patriotism is called into question if they refuse. We must honolur their lives in that situation – and their bravery!

    • It’s a very touchy subject, isn’t it Adee? In some ways you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I think we should make modern warfare like medieval times where the Kings went to fight with the troops. Can you imagine Prime Ministers and Presidents in office now engaging in hand to hand combat? It might make our leaders less keen to go to war at the drop of a hat…..

  12. Hi Selma,
    We went to our local dawn service here and I must say it was very good, and a lot of young children as well as teenagers were there, and all the young kids were very well behaved during the speeches.

    • Good on you, Mags. I think it’s great so many young people are going to the services these days. It makes me feel good!

  13. No matter what one’s views about war are, those who suffered them in the trenches deserve our recognition and thanks. I’m betting that, for the most part, they were every bit against war too, and probably even more so than we are.

    • Totally, Patti. Can you imagine seeing a battle up close? It would not be anyone’s choice. I am so impressed by the bravery of people who’ve seen combat!

  14. It’s true that these memorial days are for honoring the sacrifices made by so many oh-so-young soldiers who return traumatized, maimed, completely transformed. If they were sent on a pointless mission by their government, that is a tragedy. But once they are in, they go wherever they are sent. Out of loyalty, trust and love for their country. It must be terrifying. I so hoped my own sons would not be drafted to Afghanistan.

    • It must be terrifying, Squirrel. There really is no other way of putting it. I would be a nervous wreck if the draft came in here. I really couldn’t deal with my son going to war. Every Anzac Day I light a candle for all the mothers who had to endure all that worry over their sons in WWI. And subsequent wars. Those Mums are heroes to me too.

  15. It’s touching that you pour yourself into the idea, “What must it have been like?” I tell you, I can’t even begin to image it. But your post made me think hard about it.

    • I can’t imagine it, shoutabyss. It must have been incredibly traumatic. How fortunate I am to not have experienced it up close….