Contributed by Joe Montero
Many will be taking part in the range of activities marking ANZAC Day.
The occasion has both its supporters and opponents. The debate often primarily rests on the history of Gallipoli. Opponents also see ANZAC as a promoter of war.
It is not as simple as this either. Yes, it is true that Gallipoli was a blundering and meaningless disaster, and essentially a British attack, based on a policy that the Turks should not have their own country. It is also true that the soldiers did not take part under the Australian flag, but the British one.
Reconciliation with the truth of history is important and we should all learn from it. Those who try to use the occasion for a political stunt and are not there to remember, don’t deserve the time of day from anyone. They bring their jingoism and lift the myth that all wars that Australians have fought in are wars for freedom and to protect Australia. Anyone with any knowledge of the history, knows that it has not always been true. In the early days, it was usually for the expansion of the British Empire. Then it has been for the expansion of the undeclared American empire.
Despite all this, there is a big difference between the schemes of politicians and generals and the young men, and women too, who went to the First World War and all other wars. For the most part, their motives were genuine. They showed courage in a horrible situation and they suffered greatly. Some didn’t get to come back. Others came back injured. Most returned with mental health issues.
Australia’s service men and women have not always been treated well. During the two world wars, they had been promised great deal on their return. They got little and felt betrayed. Vietnam veterans were treated worst of all. They also felt betrayed. Those who have experienced recent war service are no different from those who had done so earlier.
Politicians and generals carry on during the ANZAC celebrations, whipping up their jingoism, basking in the glorification of war. Most take part to honour those who died and those who cam back. We should all honour them who, for they have earned that right.
This is the reason why denigrating ANZAC Day is wrong.. For those who stared war and death in the face, it is no glory to go to war. Only those who talk about it, but have never put themselves on the line can say that there is.
ANZAC Day is a time to remember those who went to war. It can also be more, reminding us of the truth and be an important symbol against war. The experience of those who faced it can teach us and we can resolve together, to never again have our youth sacrificed as cannon fodder, for the plans of those safely tucked away from the front line.