Friday, April 25, 2008

Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

April 25th is ANZAC Day. Anzac stands for Australian & New Zealand Army Corps. What Anzac day celebrates is a military bungle of rather massive proportions. History according to Ganeida tends to be a little on the colourful side & not strictly how the text books like to describe things & given my anti~war leanings anyway I always approach ANZAC Day with ambigious emotions.

Do I believe we should remember our fallen soldiers who died doing their duty as they saw it? Yes. Do I attend Dawn Services? No, not anymore.

The first Anzac Day occurred during the First World War when ANZAC troops were landed on a secluded Turkish beach in a bid to eliminate Turkey from the war. Well, they got the wrong beach & what should have been a quick skirmish soon forgotten in the horrors of war turned into a protracted stalemate with no winners & lots of unnecessary deaths. The waste of lives horrifies me. The sheer stupidity of the thinking horrifies me even more.

Now my issues with war tend to be rather personal. Firstly I am quite old enough to remember Vietnam in vivid detail. I have huge issues with a government that was quite happy to send our young men to a foreign country to be butchered then refused to recognise their sacrifice. Thankfully that has been rectified but it should never have been an issue. Secondly we have many, many men on this island who served in Vietnam & without exception they have been seriously damaged by that experience. And then there is the Second World War. That is the one my father & uncles served in. My grandmother had four sons on the Japanese front. Norman didn't come home. None of the others would ever march in the parades or attend the Dawn Services. To a man they would never speak of the war. They were small town men, farmers & gardeners. War was utterly foreign to them. My father flew the big carriers into PNG ferrying fresh troops in & the shattered wrecks of men & dead bodies out. It changed him. He never forgot that experience...& he never spoke of it.

See, when I think of things like Anzac Day I don't tend to think of the dead, who are dead & out of it. I tend to think of the living: the men who became abusive towards their families out of trauma, (& there have always been plenty of those), those who became less than sane, those who lost sons or husbands causing financial & emotional hardship, the shell~shocked no longer capable of holding down a job. I think of the ongoing nightmares & all those souls plunging into eternity. I see nothing glorious, only the stupidity of mankind who has never learnt to resolve conflict in a sensible way. What saddens me is that we will never learn from our past. You will hear of wars & rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. (Matt.24:6)

In Canberra, which is our political capital, there is a National War Museum. Like plenty of others I've strolled around the courtyard scanning the names on the roll of honour for a family member. Norman's name is there along with the name of every other soldier who has served in a conflict Australia's engaged in. Every name represents someone's grief, someone's heartbreak. There are a lot of names. That's a lot of grief. It's a wonder God's heart doesn't break at the folly of it all.

1 comment:

molytail said...

The waste of lives horrifies me

That pretty much sums up my feelings toward war of any sort right there.

I'm the odd duck in my family - military men and women on both sides, going back several generations. I don't fit. I can't imagine choosing that life, with the potentials that come along with it...

Eh. I like what you have to say - and the quote from Matthew has me thinking.