Comment: The ANZAC Legacy

As born and bred Aussies, we all know the sacrifices that past and present servicemen and women have made to keep our land the "Lucky Country", with so many paying the "ultimate price', for our continued and continuing freedom. We must continue to honour them and be appreciative of their actions. It saddens me to hear this bull bleep ( sorry, that's what it is ) about toning down Anzac Day activities for fear we may offend some immigrants. What these so called offended persons should consider is that the actions of the people we honour on Anzac Day made it possible for them to be here, enjoying Australia today. "Lest We Forget"
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Reply By: Wilko (Parkes NSW) - Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 21:41

Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 21:41
Hi Trevor,

Ignore the media beat up about Anzac day offending some Immigrants,What sort of a backlash do you think would come out of it if a government tried to suppress it. (it would make the carbon tax annihilation that going to happen at the next election look poultry)

The words of ataturk are increasingly wiser as the years pass by.

Cheers Wilko
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Reply By: Member - Outback Gazz - Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 22:21

Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 22:21
G'day Trev

I would love to give / post my thoughts on this topic but political correctness and the possibilty of being called racist prevents me from being Australian and having my say ! Happy to chat with you offline re: where this country's headed but unfortunately my Turban Taxi is here in his Mahindra to ferry me to the local take away to pick up my falafal and Halal kebab ! If you ever come to SA you are welcome to stay at the Government funded Asylum seekers residence complete with big screen tv, free cigarettes, free food and mobile phone service which is located just up the road from the Aussie pensioner's village where they get fed once a day ( silly buggers worked hard and paid tax all their life ! ) Anyway - I better go as I'm recording a programme on my Korean built DVD player about some blokes who gave their lives in battle so us modern day Aussies could live happy and free with our non conforming neighbours north of the Gulf !
Sorry for the pause in chat - my grand daughter just called and sang the most beautiful version of Ba Ba Blue sheep I have ever heard !! Brought a tear to my eye !!

Happy Travelling - but don't ask directions as the new Australian's might tell you where to go !

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Follow Up By: cobber - Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 23:06

Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 23:06
The West Australian Newspaper today just advised in an article that, our WA "Foundation Day" holiday held on the first Monday in June, is now to be called "Western Australian Day" it was just passed in our WA Parliament..........More Political correctness in action..............Easter/Christmas Next!!!!!!
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Follow Up By: Ross M - Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 23:10

Friday, Mar 30, 2012 at 23:10
I think it is better to be Right than Politically Correct.
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Reply By: Off-track - Saturday, Mar 31, 2012 at 11:48

Saturday, Mar 31, 2012 at 11:48
I am not a religious man at all but I hold to the basic christian values that have shaped the way Australian law and social guidelines are today. Whilst not perfect (and certainly not anywhere near perfect in the past) I believe that we live in a fair and just nation with more than enough opportunities for anyone to make a successful go at it if they care to put the effort in.

There are many emerging issues and this is one close to my heart.

One of the common themes that all our enemies on the battlefront have stated after the dust-up is how the Australian Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen were very very tough in battle but showed respect and decency for the foe in an environment that is certainly not conducive to do so.

These are values that are part of our national culture and are not just held by those that serve but they have maybe best represented what Australia is about on the world stage. Not unlike our sportsmen and women. Tough but fair. Quite obvious that through these actions peoples from other countries sit up and take notice of the little unknown country tucked away at the lower corner of the globe punching above its weight.

This is what is celebrated so proudly on ANZAC day and why people that have had no direct or indirect connection to the ADF have so passionately embraced it. Heart-warming stuff.

To have the notion that our nation needs to look at changing one of its core beliefs and therefore its core values and the way the nation is structured because it might offend or ostracise some minorities that made the choice that Australia was a nation they liked and wanted to be part of is so unbelievably f#$%*^g stupid and ignorant it is quite simply astounding. Even more so because I doubt this was pushed by minority groups but by do-gooders that think too much and work too little.

Quite simply if the way that our nation offends or does not agree with the laws and social values you were brought up with in your birth nation then you should seriously consider leaving. I dont think the exit door will see much traffic.

If you choose to remain and take part (no need to change religion to do this) then we will embrace you with open arms and opportunities to do well.

Our laws and social values that are for all Australians on the whole should not be tampered with or we will not be that attractive place to live anymore.
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Saturday, Mar 31, 2012 at 12:38

Saturday, Mar 31, 2012 at 12:38
Well said Off-track, you have a much greater ability with words than I but you have expressed what I, and I expect, what the so called "silent majority' feel. This present and preceeding governments have been so busy with political correctness, spin and just plain bulls--- that they lost sight of what the "silent majority" elected them to do. We do of course have to keep in mind that our media, whether printed or electronic, is a business, and as with any business, it's first consideration is profit margin. Sensation sells and the more sensational the more sales. Can't remember the latin but I think the translation goes something like "Never let the facts stand in the way of a good story".

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Reply By: Fred G NSW - Saturday, Mar 31, 2012 at 12:36

Saturday, Mar 31, 2012 at 12:36
Here for your perusal is a copy of an email distributed to my Association. Makes for an interesting read.

At least one politician has the balls to speak out.....and it's a woman. I've had a look at her website, and it's very interesting reading about her background.

28th March 2012
Opinon / Letter to Ed
For immediate release

No need to consult on meaning of Anzac Day

Dear Sir/Madam

Like many of my constituents I was horrified to read of the Gillard government spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants to tell them how to commemorate ANZAC Day.

A 288 person “focus group” was questioned to compile the report, commissioned by the Department of Veterans Affairs for the Gallipoli landing centenary. It claimed the commemoration is a “double edged sword” and a “potential area of divisiveness” because of multiculturalism.

Perhaps most offensive was the recommendation that organisers of the event should avoid references to current military action because it is “unpopular with young people”.

These conclusions are rubbish. Migrants to Australia are generally very respectful of our military history and the increasing numbers of young people at ANZAC events show that this group is anything but disengaged from current or past conflicts.

A Department of Veterans Affairs spokeswoman apparently said the report provided an essential understanding of community attitudes ahead of the centenary.

It is not the Department’s job to try to collect a range of disparate opinions on this subject, delivered in ad hoc fashion by people selected out of the phone book and then try to talk these up in a way that seeks to influence the national debate on something as sacred as the spirit of ANZAC.

DVA’s website states their mission is to support those who serve or have served in defence of our nation and commemorate their service and sacrifice.

And that’s exactly it.

This is the Department that is tasked to look after our returned service men and women. Perhaps the Prime Minister could ask them to conduct a focus group of 288 soldiers, returned from Vietnam or Afghanistan and ask them whether her Department is meeting their needs for support, recognition, health care and counselling?

As historian CEW Bean so aptly said, our ANZAC tradition stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance that will never own defeat’.

The ANZAC spirit is not just found on the battlefield, it is found on the sporting field, in schoolyards, in workplaces and across our wide Australian landscape. It is laughter, love of country and love of life and has a place in the heart of every Australian.

Can this miserable Government not get one thing right?

Our pride in our nation and the men and women who died for it and who die for it still is not in doubt, does not need to be analysed or investigated or questioned. Not ever.

The forthcoming commemoration of the Centenary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 2015 will be one of the most important events in our history.

It is a moment when all Australians will join together to reflect and remember the service and sacrifice of those who serve in the Australian Defence Force, and the 104,000 Australians who gave their lives in defence of both our individual liberty and our country’s liberty.

I look forward to ensuring that the local communities I represent are able to commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC in the way that most suits them. I know that we will honour the extraordinary deeds of ordinary men and women and the legend they helped to create.

Sussan Ley MP
Federal Member for Farrer

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Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Saturday, Mar 31, 2012 at 20:21

Saturday, Mar 31, 2012 at 20:21
Of course we should honour and respect the sacrifices of our armed services and it is fitting that we dedicate a day each year to do this. What many of us object to is the way this slides into something that becomes ugly.
The qualities that we honour in Australian service men and women are the qualities that all nations honour in their armed services. And rightly so for them as well as us. Let’s face it, at Gallipoli we weren’t “fighting to preserve our freedom”, we were invading another country that had quite reluctantly been dragged into the war by the actions of Britain. And you don’t have to study the causes of WW1 too closely to realize that it was a trade war in which France and Britain carried about as much responsibility for the war as Germany. Neither were we “defending Christian values”. In fact the Australian soldiers returning after WW1 are on record as specifically rejecting this attempt at mythmaking by our leaders. The soldiers insisted that obelisks (which the soldiers saw in Egypt and which they saw as being non religious) should be used at War memorials rather than the crosses at first planned by our leaders.
Soldiers of all countries exhibit braveness and sacrifice. And some soldiers of all countries (ours included)are likely to become involved in acts that others will see as “war crimes.” That’s the nature of war. Those who were there, rarely will talk about it. It tends to be those with political agendas who want to mythologize the reality.
The problem with the kind of breast-beating xenophobia that too often gets tacked on to national memorial days, is that it becomes an end in itself that serves political purposes and takes the place of thought. Have a read of the speeches around the Treaty of Versailles, especially those made by the Australian Prime Minister at the time, Billy Hughes. Hughes’ speeches and actions at Versailles of course were designed for consumption back in Australia. The American President Wilson warned Hughes that his actions would make WW11 inevitable and history proved Wilson right.
Honour our service people, but be very, very wary of the mythmakers.
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Follow Up By: Fred G NSW - Sunday, Apr 01, 2012 at 01:46

Sunday, Apr 01, 2012 at 01:46
Mate, that's a very in depth but some what cryptic response, which has gone over my poor old head, and I suspect many others.

What actually is the point you are making. I don't quite understand what your point is.

I'm not having a shot (no pun intended) at you, but please put that into layman terms.

As another female politician once said, "Please explain." LOL

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Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Sunday, Apr 01, 2012 at 15:37

Sunday, Apr 01, 2012 at 15:37
Hi Fred
I’d have thought my final sentence made the meaning clear, but if not, I’ll expand a little.
There is a fine line between honouring our service people and xenophobia/racism. Look how recently waving an Aussie flag on Australia day became an excuse for racist mobs demanding that foreign looking people “kiss the flag” etc. Read the letter on the Explore Oz forum from Outback Gaz.
There is a huge difference between honouring our service people and their sacrifice and the sort of statements that imply that Australians are superior beings to others. I have yet to meet a migrant to this country who objected to Anzac day (but I see statements being made that they do which look rather like dirty tricks from the usual anti migrant mob.)
All those comments about “Australian values” etc etc, should be seen for what they are. Every country has a vested interest in developing similar myths about itself and their soldiers. I’m not saying “mateship” didn’t or doesn’t exist, but comradeship, loyalty, sacrifice are not unique to us. We would be wiser to spend at least as much time examining how we got into wars and the way our leaders manipulate patriotism for their own political ends.
I’m not a pacifist, sometimes I think war is justified. But before we ask our young people to put themselves on the line, we need to learn to look very carefully at the “why”. For example, why do we on Anzac day never reflect on why our young men were sent to invade Turkey? Why was Turkey in the War anyway? What was the von Schlieffen Plan and why did it put the nations of the world in a situation where they simply had to go to war? And so on. Perhaps as well as learning about the bravery of our soldiers and their sacrifice, we should also use the occasion to be a bit more thoughtful about the way we deal with other nations then and now. That way our soldiers might not have to pay that supreme price quite so regularly while we uncritically add another chapter to the glory of our tradition.
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Follow Up By: Off-track - Sunday, Apr 01, 2012 at 22:16

Sunday, Apr 01, 2012 at 22:16
Mfewster, I think you are both right and wrong with some of your points and if any of what you wrote was in reference to my post then I think you may have misunderstood me and possibly missed the point.

Certainly agree that ANZAC Day has been used by some to promote xenophobia views and outright disgustingly racist actions held by thugs that think they are better than others because they are white and are maybe Christians. That cannot and should not be allowed to occur and there should not be any argument against that. This has been one of the things that Australia has fought against in the past and we should not fall victim to it. It is an ugly side to our country today but a minority view (I hope).

I strongly disagree though with your comment that these servicemen and women did not uphold strong unique Australian values and that you think they are not worth celebrating. We are not talking about the common values of any soldier (sacrifice, courage, loyalty etc) regardless of the flag on their shoulder, but rather what makes Australia stand out; Decency, fairness, humility. That is not a myth, believe me on that one. They are the very values that should allow new migrants to want to come here for a better life and stand equal to the older migrants and to the original migrants to this country regardless of religious beliefs or background. Australia has embraced multiculturalism better than just about every other country in the world and we should be proud of that.

What I, and (I can bet London to a brick) almost every other Australian get their back up about is not so much when boundaries are tested by interest groups and the like (because they should be tested) but when our laws and values that make Australia, Australia are allowed to so easily be changed just because someone thought it best that we dont upset anyone.

It's not saying that we are superior but that we have, on the whole, very high moral values that should be further built on and held by all Australians, no matter what you look like or believe.

ANZAC day should not be about what we fought for (because a lot of it as you rightly stated was not good or right) but the way that they/we conducted themselves/ourselves. That is how I celebrate it anyway.
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Follow Up By: Gnomey - Monday, Apr 02, 2012 at 09:21

Monday, Apr 02, 2012 at 09:21
G'day Folks
Anyone who finds Mfewster's diplomatic comments obscure could try googling "jingoism" and/or "nationalism".

A couple of things nark me about threads like this. The most obvious is what place they have on this forum and pondering that one leads easily to a second.

There isn't a simple, single prescription for being "Australian": one that demands obedient subscription to specified ideas, beliefs, interpretations of history and even, values. There isn't a single "genuine" brand aussie to be taken up by a caravan and camping site, and certainly not unless we are prepared to look fairly and fully at our darker side, history and cultural shortcomings with equal enthusiasm. National myths are stories that tell us what to forget as much or more than what to remember.

I really like being an Australian and at an appropriate time and in a suitable place I will tell you why. Meantime I can get by without instruction, direct or implied, in (metaphorically speaking) which flag to salute and when and how to do it.

The incomplete bones of my maternal grandfather lie in a French cemetery. His death had sfa to do with the preservation of Australia or its values. In 1918 he left behind a wife and three very young children. It did profound and lasting intergenerational damage.

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Follow Up By: Member - Mfewster(SA) - Monday, Apr 02, 2012 at 20:05

Monday, Apr 02, 2012 at 20:05
Hello Off Track and Gnomey.

I would make a distinction between Australian troops in WW1 and the rest of my comments. The WW1 Australian troops were proudly volunteers and geberally not regular army. To be selected, you had to be fit and reasonably tall. They were enthusiastic, there is no doubt that they really wanted to show the world what Australia was made of - and they did. Their letters make it pretty clear that it was an adventure, a rare chance to travel. Whole sporting teams enlisted together. But it was also the enthusiasm of innocence. The tragedy is that at first WW1 was cheered on by the new nation with eagerness to see how the men would perform. The men knew this too. To question what the war was about was close to treason (at first). So our grandfathers were slaughtered for reasons that had zero to do with "defending Australia" or our "values".
People's values around the world really don't differ all that much. But I'd suggest that Australian values are markedly different to those of 1914. The "mateship" and "far go" of World War 1 was very much a product of the Unions at a time when most Australian men were unionists. Try a Henry Lawson story like "The Union Buries its Dead." Those are the kinds of values that those men had and that they shopwed in their "mateship". How many of those today who want to claim to inherit the values etc of the Anzacs wan t to support the principles of 1900's unionism? I find it interesting that so many who are anti union today are amongst the keenest to claim the Anzac tradition.
So we should remember and honour our service people. But skip the mythmaking. It just gets used to sell us the next conflict. We are encouraged to see our soldiers as proudly carrying on the tradition. No doubt they are. But it would be truer to those we lost if we put at least as much emphasis into considering what we had learnt from their sacrifice so we might be much more careful about when we call on our soldiers next time.
For example, the part Australia played at the Treaty of Versailles was quite extraordinary. Together with the French it can be argued that we made WW11 inevitable. President Wilson of the USA told us of just that at the time. But we never mention it on Anzac Day and in fact in Australia we have done our best to write it out of our history. There is much to learn there about the policies we should demand of our governments
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Follow Up By: Off-track - Tuesday, Apr 03, 2012 at 01:39

Tuesday, Apr 03, 2012 at 01:39
You're losing me on the repeated reference to 'mythmaking' as I get the feeling it is to counter what I wrote. Maybe I am misreading you and I apologise if this is so. Further lost though on mythmaking of the unions as being the owners of some of these values and wondering how they were wedged into this. Nobody owns them just because they belong to a group, that's was my point. Nobody said, in here at least, Australian soldiers were fighting to preserve our values, but that they represented them to the world as typically Australian traits (in general terms).

Peoples values do indeed differ in varying degrees around the world in a collective sense, due mainly to cultural and political pressures and guidance. You even acknowledged it so in a historical then and now sense. If it can vary in time then it can vary in this space. But of course you can find good and bad anywhere.

Anyway regardless of what is said above no one should argue that these men and women should not be forgotten foremost which by itself should and does moderate calls for Australians to be sent to be potentially sacrificed again without a great deal of scrutiny as to whether the human cost is actually worth it. I think it has helped made us a peaceable nation as opposed to one of our allies for example which leans more towards a combative nation, and I think that is what you are wary of us falling in the trap of doing. Quite right.

ANZAC day is about the people, not the politics. A point often lost I know. The point of the original article in fact.
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