Anzac Day has rolled around again. I swear it is happening more often these days.
Anzac Day is now used rather like Remembrance Day, to remember all the wars that Australians have been involved in. It seems some people are worried that the resurgence of Anzac Day from being a half forgotten anniversary of the storming of a little cove in Turkey to a national day of remembrance means that we will glorify war.
For me at least, that fear is rubbish. Ridiculous.
My Pop fought at Gallipoli and then backed up for more at the Somme. Like many veterans, he didn't like talking about his time at the war. He talked a bit about the "good" bits - the gattling guns, the women - he very much liked the French women! - but you didn't get to hear about the horrors. A generation of men came back from the war struggling to cope with what they had seen and what they had done. How can you glorify that? How can you glorify trench foot, living for months in freezing or frying mud and blood and slush, killing people that you otherwise could be friends with? The Turks and the Allies used to swap cigarettes, tins of beef and sweets during cease fires at Gallipoli. How do you glorify the death of over 130,000 men at Gallipoli? It was a disaster for the Allies and the huge losses of Turks (2 for every Allied death, over 10,000 ANZACs) could only be seen as a victory due to the awful mistakes made by the English command and eventual withrawal of Allied troops from the Gallipoli peninsula.
No, the only way anyone could glorify war is to not actually talk about the realities of war.
And to our Kiwi cousins, whose contribution is apparently ignored by Australians? Lord knows what people think the NZ stands for in Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC). I am sorry that we seem to have forgotten you.
"Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well."
War has changed but memories of trench-based warfare remain.
Lest we forget.