I do worry about the dignity of Anzac Day.
I see young hoards descending upon Gallipoli, a killing field and a cemetery, in bright T-shirts whooping & cheering, I see breakfast TV presenters and their OB crews switching back and forth between locations, interviewing each other keenly, commentating upon proceedings, and rabbitting on about the “celebrations”. I see the whole thing becoming something of a spectacle. The tone of the day is, in places, less about respect than it ought to be.
When I was a kid, they told us about the wars and how so many, many men had gone off and not come home, many ending up simply buried and left to rot under the battlefields upon which they fell in their tens of thousands. I sat there and thanked God that it wasn’t my generation that had had to endure it, and then wondered if ever the same may come to pass for us one day. I truly came to understand the phrase “there but for the grace of God go I”, which to me has always been a central tenet of Anzac Day.
I understand that I was born a mere 26 years after the end of World War Two, and that it, and to some extent even the First World War, were still strong in living memory, and that as the generations roll over the perspective and the understanding of Anzac Day will need to evolve to survive and stay relevant, especially in view of the service and sacrifice of new generations of diggers, fighting some other incompetent diplomat’s pointless wars.
But I really feel that at its core, Anzac Day needs to be a day of quiet reflection, and, yes, profound regret, that, no matter how long ago it was now, ordinary people had to go off and be slaughtered so appallingly at the hands of forces they had no real idea about. And that it is still happening.
The only thought I have on Anzac Day is: Those Poor Bastards.
Lest We Forget.