25 April 2012


A trench at Lone Pine after the battle,
showing Australian and Turkish dead on the parapet
Image from The Australian War Memorial, through Wikimedia Commons

Re-enactment of Gallipoli landing from Jax on Vimeo.
Today was ANZAC Day in Australia and New Zealand. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, which was established as a British Empire Colonial Force during World War One.

ANZAC Day is held annually in Australia and New Zealand, beginning with a 4.30am dawn service to commemorate the ANZAC amphibious invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula, in the Aegean Sea, Turkey, in what was then the Ottoman Empire, on the morning of 25 April 1915. The operation was a failure, and 8 months later the ANZACs along with the British, French, Indians and Canadians evacuated the siege on the Ottomans, with combined casualties of 392,338 (the vast majority Ottoman). This was the beginning of Australia's involvement in WW1, and many in Australia strangely believe it to be a nation defining event!

In Australia, ANZAC Day, along with Remembrance Day, has come to commemorate many wars that Australians have participated in. Some have even forgotten the associations with New Zealand. The wars not remembered however are the Australian Frontier Wars, The New Zealand Wars, The Boer Wars, or the many secret special operations carried out by Australia's Special Air Service and Special Operation's Force. Nationalism in Australia, is sadly defined by limited perspective on war.

In school we are taught some bizarre story about how or what WW1 was about. Something to do with an assignation of an Arch Duke in Europe, leading to a crisis between Germany, France, England, and other colonising imperialists.. and somehow that crisis in Europe lead to ANZACs being deployed across the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Europe. Some say WW1 was actually a British campaign to prevent Germany completing a railway from Berlin to Baghdad, and securing it's interests in oil there. They say WWI was the first of many oil wars to come (9.27 Mins).

The way in which Australians remember their wars is important to me. My teenage friends and I spent most of our adolescent years dreaming of the day we would 'serve' in what was a kind of right-of-passage to us as boys to be men. Some of us went on from Army Cadets to join the Army. I joined the 1st Commando Company. While I dropped out pretty soon after my initial training, others stayed at it. Had I stayed, I might have ended up in the 2nd Commando Regiment, deployed to Afghanistan and possibly even participating in that terrible masacre there. I can hand on heart say, that ANZAC day, along with many movies, inspired and motivated my interest in a combat military career. Lucky for me, I found a girlfriend who cured me of such junk thinking.

If we as a nation and as individuals, could remember war differently, without the nationalism, militarism, fetishism, suggestion to boys of what it means to be men... if we could cease using words like service, suprime or ultimate sacrifice, bravery, valour, and others like it... if we could rethink our memorials and museums... if we could instead stay away from nationalistic gatherings - hopefully in the peace and love of our friends and families, reflecting on the true and untold costs of war, remembering the parts we each play in causing our conflicts and wars, and even burning effigies of politicians and corporations who failed in their honesty, diplomacy and setting right their many injustices of the past and soon-to-be-present, then ANZAC Day would be something I would maybe participate in.

Lest we forget [be careful how we remember]



Alexander Hayes said...

With distant family members who were killed in the conflict and present living members living a life of torture since, including those who have suffered psychologically at the hands of those who returned scarred and broken....I choose to observe the rituals and to render them as I do with most other things in my life - through a creative prism extruded as images amidst the stream of all else - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mobology

Retrieved from the clutches of Facebook my reply to Stephan Ridgway's personal thoughts on this time of the year for him was:

"...I agree with you on the futility of war, understand your personal opinion and respect the attempts by others to disrupt and cease the depravity of slaughter...my respect is reserved for those who realise change, who embrace difference and who sought merit at great peril of their own lives in protecting others despite the conscription they found themselves subject to...our greatest threat is the beat of the consortium drum, the insidious trajectory of technology and the enamoured masses that sink amongst its function creep...pilotless gamers savaging innocents....my greatest fear is the loss of our privacy and what it means for wars when my own sons awake in fright of the future they find themselves in...our present is a paradoxical nightmare...I cling to to beauty in the face of the sheer sublime."

Likewise Leigh, every town in this nation including Darwin and it's growing population of American servicemen, have inscribed monuments to the humanity that went before us into the inhumanity of conflict.

If nothing more my tears are grief for the ridiculous and schizophrenic values we bestow on those who extoll the differences between religion, between skin colour, between sexes, between....I choose to differ and seek inclusiveness and have suffered as a consequence of doing so.

I stand in the crowd as I did in the pew...still, reverent, seething with contempt for the murderous swines that cause this fear and loathing that has lead to three nations celebrating defeat.

Steven said...

Great post Leigh

Living in Australia I yearly attend the massive Military parade when I can to pay my respects to 'the SERVICES'. Many 100's of men and women marching proudly for the valour and bravery, fighting and dying for something they believed in... SERVING and protecting their country?

I noticed that the march in Sydney (as around the world) all climaxed ritually at the same point...the obelisk... which is a symbol of service to what?.

The symbolism of the obelisk was never explained to me so I looked into.

Video - Obelisk

The term "obelisk" derives from Greek ὀβελίσκος (obeliskos), which means "little obelus"; from Greek: ὀβελός (obelos) meaning "roasting spit"

The Obelisk is also associated with BA'AL and sun worship

Esoteric I know but since then I have never been able to look at the parade and the people the same way. I wonder if any of the brave men ritually marching ever ask themselves what they are marching to and who their sacrifice was for?

I will still attend the ANZAC parade but my feelings are that of compassion for the suffering of humanity and sickness for our exploitation through all that is good in us.

Steven said...

Video - Symbolism of the dead

Steven said...

Considering the ANZAC parade marches towards a monument to Baal (The obelisk) here is a good article on the significance of the month of April in relation to Baal worship and human sacrifice.