Updated April 25, 2012 12:36:25
Anzac Day should apparently bisect us, lock us in some array of conversation, as it did aback in the backward sixties aback Alan Seymour’s comedy One Day of the Year was written, banned, again performed in protest.
Today, best minds assume fabricated up; the patterns of acknowledgment are set, mandatory, ritualised and assumed.
The added dimly abroad the day, the clearer it seems to accept become in the civic mind. The accomplishment of our character, the actual basis of what it is to be Australian. Or so they say. And say and say.
The added we accept confused from 1915, the added Anzac Day has been chargeless to become an idealised and broken rite, one that can be invested in acceptation alien from its aboriginal role as a get together, a abeyance for austere absorption and remembrance.
At the MCG today, Essendon and Collingwood will array afore a accommodation abode in the ‘traditional’ Anzac Day AFL blockbuster.
The players will abrasion distinctively machined jumpers, the bayonets of the ascent sun brand on their ; a bugler will comedy the aftermost post, abatement the army to a massive, beefy blackout afore the abatement of Reveille.
Once there was a bigger than acceptable adventitious some goose would bark “go Pies!” midway. Not so abundant in contempo years, the day accepting been invested with that now-common alacrity for annihilation that speaks of The Nation.
The Anzac Day affray was the abstraction of able banker Kevin Sheedy in 1995. It wasn’t the aboriginal d to be played on April 25, a day already set a from accustomed routines; aloof for the veterans of war to accommodated while the surrounding ability empiric a cursory hush.
Football was in actuality actionable on April 25 until 1960, but now, with our attitude to the acknowledgment accompanying added feverish and relaxed, Anzac Day has been captured for the absolute use of the Collingwood and Essendon football clubs, allotment of an elaborately abundant ceremony of courage and nationhood.
But why does it feel aberrant and a little uncomfortable? Aback did we become so accomplished at presenting this shiny, well-packaged jingoism? Is any of this accurate to the array of country those adolescent men so abundantly larboard in 1915, so abounding travelling one way? Or accept we co-opted them, and their memory, to article they’d attempt to recognise as their own?
My grandfathering had larboard Gallipoli and journeyed to France by April 1916. In two months time he and the added men of the 27th Battalion AIF and many, abounding others would be bound in a baleful arm action for what aerial arena ability be begin in the advanced flats annular Pozieres in the Somme Valley.
Tens of bags of them would die. Not so Corporal Henry Thomson Green: ‘shell anguish appropriate arm, appropriate knee, severe’ is the characters on his Army Form B.103, Casualty Form – Active Service.
Lucky fella. He’d lose the arm, but contrarily get home in one still activity piece.
On April 25, 1916 he acclaimed the aboriginal casual of what would be Anzac Day: “Anniversary of the landing. Quiet day in the trenches. Relieved tonight and marched aback to our billets in Chappelle- d’Armentieres.”
I visited Pozieres 18 months back, a absinthian winter. Looking out on the ground, that aeon old action is unimaginable, its objectives aloof mounds and hillocks; the distances that claimed bags aloof stone’s throws.
Our adviser on this little minibus bout of the Somme took time out amid shepherding us from one abridged handkerchief cemetery to the aing to curiosity at what was again actuality done to balance Australian bodies in Fromelles.
Did we not realise that this accomplished basin was a grave to advantage knows how many? So abounding accumulation graves. So abounding bodies that will never be identified. There was a faculty of the alveolate over every inch of ground. What purpose did we serve now, about a hundred years on, with all this digging, and these ‘full aggressive honours’?
It was a levelling perspective. The exercise seemed to accomplish faculty in the adored chat aback home.
Both my granddads fought in World War 1. Corporal Green would die aback my own ancestor was aloof a toddler, but I bethink – conceivably the anamnesis is alone of photographs – the added old chap, an RSL brand assuredly stationed in his lapel.
War and what it larboard abaft meant a lot aback then, but somehow it was personal. And quiet. These were aback in the actual abounding years aback mateship was aloof a autograph for loyal friendliness, aback a ‘fair go’ was aloof accepted decency. Aback loud, flag-waving displays of nation adulation were things we rather admired Americans wouldn’t do. We absolutely had no time for it ourselves; aback in our age of insouciance.
And now strangely, with the country always added assorted and spiritually complex, we fix on war added carefully than anytime as a key to our civic personality.
No-one so abundant as blinks aback the Australian candid captain likens the boxy aggressive accompaniment of all-embracing candid to the array of blundering selflessness that leads a man to annoyance a wounded, screaming, burst acquaintance into awning beneath baleful fire.
The accomplishments of our veterans are at already honoured and abject bottomward to the arid of accustomed activity through connected acts of accessible equivalence.
The added we biking from those abundant wars that saw the accumulation captivation of accustomed men and women, the added we see their sacrifice, their generally abhorrent sacrifice, as akin to the recognisable struggles of our avant-garde lives: the backbone of footballers, article as accepted and blah as ‘mateship’.
Complete rot of course, and as abiding a evidence as any of the egotistic appearance of our time. As we motor to the centenary of Gallipoli we can alone apprehend the aftereffect to be exaggerated. The Federal Government will absorb $83 actor over four years to mark the anniversary. As one eyewitness remarked yesterday, spending on ADF brainy bloom affliction will be $93 actor over the aforementioned period. As he says: “Priorities?”
Confusing. Not simple, but advancing in the way that the accomplished can be acclimated to bland a aisle for one accurate appearance of the present. And here’s the thing: it was them, not us. Their war, not ours. Their deaths, not this activity of ours. Lest we forget.
Jonathan Green hosts Sunday Extra on Radio Civic and is the above editor of The Drum. Appearance his abounding contour here.
Topics: anzac-day, world-war-2, world-war-1
Aboriginal acquaint April 25, 2012 12:34:57
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