Friday, 25 April 2014

ANZAC day


Twelve years ago I found myself in a sunny Brisbane on ANZAC day.
Until that point my only real connection with the day and what it meant to Australians and New Zealanders was via the Pogues cover of Eric Bogle's song The Band Played Waltzing Matilda, in which a crippled veteran looks back on the war and bemoans the fading of the parade.
I was therefore quite surprised by the turnout to watch the parade. There were even a couple of original Diggers driven by in jeeps.
I was even more amazed to see young children taking part in the parade, marching alongside veterans of the Second World War and more recent conflicts.
Someone explained that they were the children or grandchildren of veterans either marching with, or in place of, their family members.
I think I got something in my eye at this point.

Apparently it was a decision taken when the collective memory seemed to be dying out and the parades were seen as outdated, and had been very successful in connecting younger people with the sacrifices made by their countrymen and reconnecting a proud nation with one of it's formative events.

I was reminded of all this when my ipod threw up the Eric Bogle original today while I was trying to work. A song I used to view purely as an attack on the futility and wastefulness of war has a much more poignant meaning for me now that the foresight of Australians means that young people are unlikely to ask "what are they marching for" and the song's gloomy conclusion that "someday no-one will march there at all" is unlikely to come to pass.

"Lest we forget"

6 comments:

  1. Very nice post! We will remember them.

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  2. Great post, well said. It was a similar situation here in New Zealand, but in the last ten years or so there has been a major resurgence in numbers at parades and services, and the ANZAC story is very much alive for people of all ages. We will remember them.

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  3. There is an ongoing resurgence of interest and support in both Australia and NZ as we get ever closer to the 100th anniversary next year. That promises to be something quite special indeed. We will remember them!

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  4. Excellent post and great song. 40 000 at the Kings Park Dawn Service in Perth yesterday and the march had them lined up six deep along be Terrace and Barrack Street from the Arch. Tremendous remembrance and tradition of younger folk with medals and photographs of their long departed young ones. Very moving.

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  5. Glad to hear the parades are still well attended.
    Agree next year will be a particularly emotional one.
    Tom

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