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ANZAC Day is Important for many Australians

Veterans march on ANZAC Day

In the last few years there has been criticism leveled at ANZAC Day.

They say ANZAC Day is nationalistic. I say it’s patriotic. They say it glorifies war. I say it respects those who have fought in our name and who serve in our defense. They say it’s not in line with modern principles of social equality. And I say, ANZAC Day respects a historic experience among living men and women that bonds in a way non-service citizens may not entirely comprehend.

They say it’s about Gallipoli. I say, all stories have a beginning whether a battle is lost or won.

They call our flag racist. I worry that people are lulled into some idea that wars only happen nowdays between rich countries and poor. I worry that chai tea comfort and iPhone convenience have spoiled a good crop of otherwise well intentioned Australians. Our flag encompasses a British heritage. That is just a fact of life. We are a constitutional monarchy, the Commonwealth of Australia.

I thought our country had learned its lesson with the shunning of Korean War and Vietnam Veterans. But I can tell you the parents of the fallen, the brothers and sisters, the children of those service personnel who gave life (and many-a-limb) experience a real connection to ANZAC Day. It’s not just a story marketed to the people. This is an ongoing shared story between service men and women and their loved ones.

To serving military personnel and reservists (over 80,000 Australians) it’s a day where we as a society stop just for a minute to say thank you. There are around 58,000 full time serving members, 22,000 active reservists and another 22,000 standby reserves. They all have families. They all have feelings.

The number of Australian ex-military personnel would be huge. Many a medal stands on the sidelines of the parade as the old men and young children pass.

To ex-military personnel it is also a day for society to say thank you. Thankyou for that effort. Thankyou for that leg. That relationship. Those five marriages. That piece of mind. And it’s a day where old friends are able to come together for a few quiet beers and remember the years when they served.

It’s not an easy job in peacetime. It’s a terrifying job in wartime. When you see old men shed tears at ANZAC Parades it’s not for rubbish ideals about Gallipoli. They are tears for the fallen, the lost and the maimed. Tears for memories that haunt their dreams a half a century after the event. A man my age at the Hobart Cenotaph this week couldn’t stem the tears. Don’t suggest they’re not real or invalid. The story behind those tears may be utterly profound to the human being.

ANZAC Day is probably lost on people who have never served. I understand that. But those who expect their beliefs to be respected should have the decency to respect the opinions and beliefs held by a large number of Australians.

Yes there should never be War. It’s an abomination. But if you for one second are foolish enough to believe we live in a World where socio-economic drivers aren’t going to lead us into mass conflict ever again you are naive in the extreme. The military has, and will again, lay down their lives for us if asked to do so.

If you don’t like ANZAC Day, don’t attend. Be respectful. Say thank you anyway.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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