I grew up when Anzac Day had a quiet, solemn dignity, there was no question of celebration, rather the fine noble need to pay tribute to those who had laid down their lives for us. My uncle, a Gallipoli veteran, told me harrowing stories that still shock me, always finishing his accounts, telling me he absolutely loathed war. My father talked little of his experiences in WW11, barely hiding a muted rage toward anything Japanese, while his brother, less emotionally damaged, told me how much he and his men grudgingly respected Rommel, (as opposed to Hitler). Proud of their war service, both detested war, however Anzac Day was their release from the nightmare memories, as they proudly walked with comrades alive and fallen.
Today, businesses advertise and tweet spurious Anzac associations, social media warriors hijack the occasion for unrelated causes, politicians don uniforms they’ve never earned, posing for cameras, holding wreaths or rifles, football clubs claim they’re honouring the day, while raking in a fortune at the turnstiles, cities send parking inspectors out to dawn services to write $200.00 fines, not to mention the Director of the Australian War Memorial seeking to have service people towing asylum seekers back to Indonesian waters honoured as war heroes at the War memorial.
My dad and my uncles would turn in their graves at the farce Anzac Day is fast becoming. Much is made of the Anzac legend, as we claim it represents the soul of our nation, yet we are destroying it with the collapse of political, corporate and individual respect.