Happy ANZAC Day: How Will We Remember Them?

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Photo courtesy Yahoo News Australia

It’s an inappropriate title for a day that I always thought was about remembering the horrors faced by men, but in particular, I always have memories of the remaining ANZACs being wheeled to the services on April 25 each year, sitting blanketed, medalled and proper world-weary. It was, most certainly, for them.

What had the world become? Was this what they had fought for?

I have taught history, and I can see the bigger picture of why we ‘war’.

I am not about to chuck snark all over ANZAC day and what it has become. But, still. Let’s have a look around.

The narrative is especially different this year. War is necessary, and justifiable, and we must hark back to earlier times when sacrifices were made. We must see the bigger picture, apparently.

One very noticeable part of this year’s commemorations is how all things ANZAC focus around comforts rather than trauma. The trauma, when shown, is reframed for a new generation. We are looking more and more at monuments, gravestones, cenotaphs and photographs rather than at soldiers.

There is the display at Te Papa, which attempts to show in life-like terms the realities of trench warfare. I imagine, though, that it has a certain Dwayne Hanson distraction to it. You are wowing at the carefully inserted arm hairs.

There is the Auckland Museum’s Minecraft project; build the trenches with the wonder of Minecraft. I imagine that was a lot of fun.

There are the RSA-fundraiser Chocolate Squiggle ANZAC biscuits, child-friendly.

And over at ANZAC Cove, the punters are a bit chilly, reports Mat Maclaughlan, but buoyant and hopeful of between-service entertainments. The WiFi isn’t great in this part of Turkey, although the lucky ones who booked with Peninsula Tours have it in the coach.

There’s Gallipoli-style coffee in a tin mug, a Squiggle, and an overnight in a trench. Nigel Latta will speak about the psychology of warfare.

At night, some reflective PowerPoints and an oral historian.*

It’s hard to commemorate in this age of commercialization and seem genuine. We all, I guess, need our own ways of remembering.

 

 

*Possible business ideas™

 

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