Lest we forget what?

At the risk of offending and having the wrath of the RSL on me, I was just wandering what we were all remembering today?

Many of us have family who died in this or other conflicts and today is an important day to pay respect to that loss.

Our Australian War Memorial tells us that Anzac Day is perhaps our most important national day, marking the anniversary of Gallipoli, the first major military action we were part of in WWI (http://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/anzac/anzac_tradition.asp).


ANZAC Day is the day we reflect on what war means to us.

I wonder about the growing number of people who attend dawn commemoration services, but it's not that they want to commemorate or that they’re inclined to get up so early that's got me wondering.

I wonder about all the young men out drinking at Salamanca last night. Then I thought that there is a bit of a boozy culture around ANZAC Day and damn it, I’ve got no problem with drinking.

I wonder about the sentiment behind celebrating ANZAC Day.  It’s not recognising the sacrifice that bothers me, but there is something nationalistic that often emerges, it’s something about protecting the values of our culture.

For the record, I have no problem with ANZAC Day.  I guess I’m wondering if there’s not more we should be doing.

When I think about what war means to me, this is what I’m thinking about.

I remember my Great Uncle Ronald who died in Singapore in WWII. Thank you.

I am overwhelmed by the sacrifice made by our military. I can’t imagine what hell is armed conflict. So when I pause to think today, I am wishing for a world where war doesn’t exist so no more sacrifice need be made.

I worry that our focus on protecting our borders equates to protecting the ideal of white Australia.  So when I pause to think today, I celebrate that Australia has moved on considerably as evidenced by the multi-cultural country we now live in.

I wonder about why we don't get angry about why we've been caught up in some of these wars. Maybe you have been wondering why we went, or why Australia is still in, Afghanistan.  Listening to our Prime Minister a week or so ago, the only message I got was that we had a clear vision about why we were there.  I didn’t once hear her explain what that vision was. 

I find it incomprehensible that globally, armed conflict and war is still prevalent and some of these have been active for decades.  It’s hard to get a precise count, there are different definitions, but there’s probably somewhere between 30 and 40 places around the world where people are dying because of armed conflict of some scale each year (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/).

Rape in war has been documented since antiquity. I am completely crazed that women and children bear the greatest burden of war and ethnic genocide through sexual violence, sexual slavery and forced prostitution (http://www.unicef.org/sowc96pk/sexviol.htm). The culture of war and rape are so enmeshed that women in the military fear rape by their male colleagues (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1968110,00.html#ixzz1t08sHg6N). And that when ‘Remember all women raped in all wars’ was acknowledged in Canberra ANZAC Day commemorations in the 80s those women were vilified.

Maybe you’ve been following the increasing tensions in the Middle East about Iran’s alleged nuclear program and how this allegedly equates to a threat against Israel and how Israel is planning a pre-emptive strike.  I’m having déjà vu.  But if this becomes war, it will be very bad for everyone.

I’m thinking about the memorial in Hiroshima I visited recently.  The spirit of Hiroshima '...enduring grief, transcending hatred, pursuing harmony and prosperity for all, and yearning for genuine, lasting world peace.'

I've decided I want more than one day a year to think about war.

I want more than one day a year when we all act to stop it.

Tell us what ANZAC Day means to you?