Comments for en-gb 30 Fri 19 Dec 2014 23:50:59 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at BonnieConquest Wondering where you get the numbers of Kokoda trekkers from? It's an amazing increase and I just wonder how it's been possible, not to mention how the culture over the last decade has made it seem like a good thing to do. Wed 26 Aug 2009 08:28:52 GMT+1 Oz Dave in London ANZAC will never be forgotten#39, I really enjoyed your post, I will hopefully get my butt over to Ypres & Passchendale next week to honour our lads Fri 08 May 2009 18:48:25 GMT+1 wollemi #39TazinParisThe Villers-Bretonneux ceremony was televised here just after the Dawn Ceremony at Anzac Cove. It was hard to sense the mood via the TV so it's interesting to hear how it was for people thereThe line you're thinking of..'what are they marching for' is from 'And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda' by Eric Bogle. The Redgum protest song was 'I was Only Nineteen' Wed 29 Apr 2009 22:24:47 GMT+1 TazInParis I waited to comment on this post until after I have been to the dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux of the western front. It was my first ANZAC day ceremony. Born in NZ, but have lived mostly in OZ, I was there as an Australian.I've also read most of the comments.My first encounter with the ANZAC myth was back in high school (mid 70's) where the prevailing attitude was anti-war with a questioning. Thinking of the Red Gum line "what are they marching for". There was no good answer then. But the anti-war feeling faded are Australia went through a recession, into a boom, and realized that the Vietnam vets were not villains and all soldiers should be honored for their sacrifice. Then came the realization that the diggers were dying out with the loss of part of Australia's history. This was one of the sparks for the resurgence of ANZAC day, but mostly (i think) as part of a search for what it is to be Australian. History is only part of the mix. So to Villers-Bretonneux. The mood in the crowd wasn't sombre of commemoration and affirmation of being Australian. Afterward people talked, got a warm cuppa .... There was a common bond, maybe brought on by the cold or the ceremony. Very relaxed, good humored, dare I say it "Australian". The French were welcoming adding that to the atmosphere.What I didn't know was that the and pivotal battle where the Australians halted the Germans also was on ANZAC day. From the glowing tributes it seems that it was the first time the great powers actually noticed Australians and that they were not British, but with a unique character: irreverent, confident, and undauntable. So the Galipoli version of the ANZAC myth continues.Myths are not a bad thing, they exist to bind a society together and to give individuals a hero template to which to aspire. The ANZAC model is a worthwhile one, so why not use it, expand on it, add layers and depth to the myth. Wed 29 Apr 2009 15:45:42 GMT+1 Bussgrin I can't help but feel that the main issue of ANZAC day is being missed by the majority (or maybe just in Sydney). Merely knowing the words Gallipoli and Kokoda is pretty poor. Most people I work with think only diggers fought at Gallipoli and are too caught up with getting to the pub at noon to play 2up all day getting smashed. Tue 28 Apr 2009 06:46:20 GMT+1 wollemi #35Well...we remembered NZ with their flag, anthem and flowers at our small service in rural NSW, as a courtesy to the original 1914 ANZACs, However I don't think it's lack of respect that NZ is not mentioned more now, rather that the foreign policies of the 2 countries have diverged for decades. There are WW2 theatres significant to Australia - New Guinea for example - which have little resonance for NZ. NZ (and Canada) fought largely in the European War in WW2, whereas Australia had to split its commitment between the European and Pacific Wars after 1941. Also NZ is not part of our major defence treaty, ANZUS, and hasn't been for 20 years I tend to agree with kildbbydth's theme upthread, national identity began well before 1914, the ANZACs form a significant part of that identity, but just a part nonetheless. Probably the most important event in Australia since 1788 was Federation, and the 20 year lead up to it which provoked a ferment of debate about rights and politics. Amongst its many achievements, Federation had its flaws - chiefly that it did not represent indigenous Australians. It also entrenched race based immigration for 60+ years. However it represents an important stage in the entity we call modern Australia. We should now complete the task and form a republicMy relatives volunteered for WW1 and WW2 as Australians, nothing else. They did not feel an affiliation for the Empire. They volunteered because Australia was at war. I realise some Australians of that era might have had stronger links to the British Empire but when Curtin in December 1941 declared he would seek an alliance with the US to fight the Pacific War, the population was sufficiently questioning of the imperial status quo to agree with him. After that there was really no turning back to earlier times when Australia did not have a separate foreign policy to Britain's. I think the seeds for this were sown with WW1. Tue 28 Apr 2009 05:43:20 GMT+1 scrap-the-jack Alexanc, why do the deaths of thousands of Australians justify retaining the union jack on our flag and why would it be the only reason to retain it? The flag was basically designed by the british and parts of it were redesigned by the british admiralty to simplify manufacture. I love to see the flag proudly flown but what I would give to see a true representation of our country flying high instead of a representation of a british colony. Tue 28 Apr 2009 05:40:32 GMT+1 MemberName82 I find Anzac Day more important personally than Australia Day. This was my first Anzac Day back in Australia. My last one I spent in Ypres at the site of my great great uncle's grave. It hits home when you see a line of graves and only half a dozen have names on them - the rest are unknown and found listed on the Menin Gate.This year I took my husband, a former British Soldier to the dawn service. We then stayed for the march and he marched with British ex-servicemen. We were both struck at how different the response from the Aussies to serving soldiers is to the response we got in the UK to British serving soldiers - one of indifference at best.The one other thing that struck me, particularly at the dawn service, was that there was no mention about the NZ in ANZAC. Without NZ the acronym becomes AAC doesn't sound so nice. I never noticed it before - perhaps it's because I've been out of the country, but surely we should recognise the Kiwi contribution? I was a little ashamed. I spent the rest of the day in the company of an ex-squaddie and a number of mostly ex-kiwi soldiers having a few pints and a laugh. It was a great night. Come on Australia - show some respect for those Kiwis! Tue 28 Apr 2009 04:20:43 GMT+1 Whitlamite #31 - alexanc"ANZAC DAY should never be politicized."I think your post is extremely well written, and I agree whole heartedly. I think that the politicisation of ANZAC day does occur, but I don't think that the left is generally to blame for this. I think the RSL has a lot to answer for. I believe that often the RSL (whilst doing brilliant work supporting returned servicepeople and their families and communities) does get on a jingoistic hard-right bandwagon and uses ANZAC day and the memory of fallen soldiers as a shield with which they deflect legitimate criticism. Their involvement in the debate over the monarchy and the flag is a prime example. To use fallen soldiers to score political points on these issues and others (as the RSL has done), is pretty awful in my opinion. But who dares question them? Nobody - because we're afraid of being seen to be insensitive. Tue 28 Apr 2009 03:09:29 GMT+1 TrnOvrANwLeaf It seems that the consensus is for Kevin Rudd to be true to his words on pushing a republican agenda. Mon 27 Apr 2009 14:35:34 GMT+1 mike671 Oops! looks like MostonHead is showing his true colours (again). Sorry mate...who's the racist? Mon 27 Apr 2009 11:44:00 GMT+1 Colin V Alexander ANZAC DAY should never be politicized. It is about the men and women who fought and paid the ultimate price, not about politicians who seek to rewrite history and embellish any role they may have played. They only facilitate wars but never get involved with the actual fighting.Australians understand we are now in charge of our own destiny. Britain founded this country as a penal colony for those deemed unsuitable to remain in England. On the positive side it did give us the Westminster System and the knowledge on which to grow our great country. However, from there Australia became only a source from which Britains sought to improve their own levels of wealth. At higher Government levels it became a source of manpower to be used in the protection of Britain and its policies abroad.Many Australians volunteered to protect what they still perceived to be the Mother Country during WW’s 1 and II. Huge numbers followed in the spirit of mateship, a sense of obligation to our country’s commitment, or just for the excitement.Gallipolli is best remembered as where our servicemen reinforced what the bonds of mateship meant. Simpson and his donkey being the best example we all are all taught. But the same characteristics were displayed by most Australians in all theatres of war in which they were involved.Our WW I veterans must be remembered for their sacrifices, bravery, commitment to the task and characterising what it means to be an Australian. WWII veterans must be remembered for the same reasons. But what should also be remembered is that those brave service personnel made their sacrifices in the protection of England and its’ other colonies. This included Singapore which England abandoned after being overrun by the Japanese. It is the above mentioned veterans and those who made the supreme sacrifice during those times that give us reason, and no other, to retain the Union Jack in the top corner of our flag. It is the flag they fought under.Britain extracted a huge price from Australia, in both financial and human terms, as our fighting forces helped to protect Britain from the German onslaught of WWII.The final payment in respect to financial assistance Britain gave Australia to clothe and arm its service personnel to protect Britain was repatriated in April 2008. But Britain cannot and will never repay Australia for the enormous loss of Australian lives so selflessly sacrificed but needlessly wasted.Despite retaining many Australian troops in Europe, Britain left Australia to fend for itself after the fall of Singapore. It has since joined the EU and disallowed those with family ties back to Britain to take up a British passport on that basis. Also, our population mix is now so varied it bears little resemblance to its original Anglo Saxon base. We now stand alone as a proud nation of one country and one people. Our debts to other countries are as as any other that trades on the world stage. We do not have any reason to show continued subservience to Britain or its Monarchy.We should always remember, it was Australians together with our American cousins that saved this great country from the Japanese. On this ocassion Paul Keating is right. Far greater emphasis needs to be placed on the war in the Pacific where Australians saved Australia. Mon 27 Apr 2009 11:28:14 GMT+1 klldbbydth 'Understand that as people we are not much different in attitude to those soldiers'Oh really? That's interesting, because if I had come to see my grandfather on Anzac Day three quarters cut and then proclaimed that I was giving all due respect to the occasion because diggers are larrikins and I was just being a larrikin, he would have given me one in the chin. Mon 27 Apr 2009 08:55:22 GMT+1 klldbbydth 'Anzac day is a celebration of the Australian way and is inherently about the formation of our national identity that occured on faraway battlefields'No, our national identity was formed here, in our heads, and it started in 1788 and continues to this day. How can your identity and that of 20 million other Australians, almost none of whom have served in a war, have been formed on a peninsula in Turkey in 1915?Seems to me that we just play up the battlefield element of it so much because we regard the other 200 years of our history as insufficiently exciting. Which is quite hilarious actually because having only 20 years at war out of 200 is something alot of countries would be proud of!My feeling is that like most or what seems like most young or youngish Australian, you say our national identity was formed 'on faraway battlefields' because you can't remember this country before Anzac Day started to be built into something other than a day of rememberance. If you'd been alive forty years ago you would know that no one tried to depict it as the birth pangs of a better national culture, because the awfulness of World War One was absolutely overwhelming. If any newspaper did what the West Australian did last Saturday and published a photograph of a teenager in an Army uniform with a beaming smile, it would have been condemned for its total lack of propriety - you didn't smile at any occasion related to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, simple as that. This is why the media and all the travel companies advertising trips to Gallipoli and Fromelles refer to a 'new tradition' - it's a ritual this country has created in the past couple of decades, in my opinion to make up for not having any traditions.And if you were alive eighty years ago you'd know that the headlines did not record that Australia had suddenly acquired for itself a national identity by participating in WWI, they recorded that those WWI veterans whose physical and mental faculties had sufficiently survived the experience were rioting in the streets because the government was denying them pensions. On that note, a better front page story for every national newspaper would have been the fact that several veterans living in an RSL hostel in Victoria are to be evicted so that the League can sell the property - to use the proceeds of sale to buy more pokie licences. I put this to some friends of mine and they all disagreed - a worthwhile human interest story perhaps, but no one wants to read about that sort of thing on Anzac Day they said. Indeed. Mon 27 Apr 2009 08:36:16 GMT+1 MostonHead nonsense they dont want to remember the day they went about removing aboriginies from their land, they dont want to give any land back and still treat them like second class citizens, another aglo supremicist state thinking they need a battle to enjoy to give them some overrated pride, killing for a cause rather then land and greed! immigrant state should be open for non white immigrants too! just like the US, not a white mans country to choose who lives their! like israel they want to populate that with white people too and remove the indigenous peoples! Mon 27 Apr 2009 08:20:38 GMT+1 hubbletree I'm proud australia has anzac day. I try to go every year, as a sign of respect.It is unusual that a country has such a day as Australia does, and I don't mind if it's origins are disputable. The fact that everyone stands in eerie silence and tries to wonder and imagine at the dawn service, and also looking at veterans and soldiers alike marching solemnly, makes this day a unique and healthy one. It is refreshing in comparison to nationalist military parades of most other countries. Mon 27 Apr 2009 04:56:30 GMT+1 greenmanreturns As a young(ish) Australian with a very strong Anzac tradition running through my family, including the loss of family members on Anzac battlefields and life long war legacies that have had overwhelmingly affected my family life, I feel I am entitled to make two important points regarding ANZAC day.The first is that yes, Anzac day is not supposed to be a drunken day of nationalistic celebration. It is supposed to be a solemn day of quiet reflection and respect. Of pride in an older generation of Australians and what they sacrificed on behalf of their country and their mates, and it is a shame that it has, on occasion, turned into a day of drunken revelry and nationalism.However before the baby boomers try to highjack my post and nod in agreement at the disgrace of todays youth and what they have turned Anzac day into, let me make my second point. Anzac day is a celebration of the Australian way and is inherently about the formation of our national identity that occured on faraway battlefields. It is about the larrikan spirit, disrespect for authority and loyalty to mates that made them seem unique compared to other soldiers, as much as it is about battlefield bravery. I know this because my Grandfather used to take me to his monthly regimental drinks where I got to know his friends well. Those grand old boys, in their suits and hats, they may have looked different to us younger people and occasionally shaken their heads at us. But their attitude, boisterousness, cheekiness, ribbing of their mates and most of all their larrikan attitude, reminded me so much of Australians my own age it was incredible. They may have been heroes of Tobruk, El Alemein and Borneo, but when they were together they were just a bunch of Aussie boys doing what Aussie boys do, having a drink, teasing their mates and being larrikans. Every second story told recounting some form of trouble or mischeif they had gotten themselves into while abroad.So before you go critisizing my generation for going out drinking on weekends, occasionally causing a bit of mischeif, or perhaps taking things a bit too far. Understand that as people we are not much different in attitude to those soldiers that had 1 in 20 of their members court martialled for disobedience (that is an ANZAC FACT). By no means is this an excuse for drunken bad behaviour by young people on Anzac day, but by the same token the day should not be used as an excuse by baby boomers to denegrate young Australians either, simply for getting a bit over excited about a national day paying homage to their grandfathers. Grandfathers they loved dearly, whose attitudes and behaviour were not that different to our own. Mon 27 Apr 2009 02:41:43 GMT+1 klldbbydth Except it doesn't get them interested in history. They know bugger all about WWI and certainly haven't taken account of anything it taught past generations. They can probably name Simpson's donkey, because to obtain federal education grants under Howard it was compulsory to teach primary school children about Simpson and his donkey. But do they know about why WWI happened, or how it effected the world and those in it? No they don't, because analysis of anything is not on the menu in the sort of 'history' that Anzac Day has been used to promote. Mon 27 Apr 2009 01:10:51 GMT+1 smartlondon Wjburt, your post reads likeit belongs on the inside of a valentines card.As for Anzac day, surely anything that gets the younger generation interested in history and appreciative of elders is a good thing? Sun 26 Apr 2009 16:36:00 GMT+1 michaelf75 Young people in Australia can not relate in any way to the significance of Gallipoli or war in general. This is becoming an rite-of-passage to prove one's "Australian-ness". The sight of mournful Australian twentysomethings with flag tattoos sporting ridiculous haircuts and pretending emotion makes me embarrassed to be Australian. Give it five years and ANZAC Day will be synonymous with racially-motivated beatings, or something akin to VE Day in Britain where Germans are spat on. This is dangerously approaching war-mongering and it makes me sick to see little children running around waving flags, delighted with a day out but obviously not being taught how horrible war is - for all sides concerned. A responsible political leadership would attempt to shape it into day of real respect and education. Australian leaders would do well to learn from Spanish, German and French ways of marking such horrible events. Sun 26 Apr 2009 13:46:54 GMT+1 klldbbydth One thing positive I will say about the way this country celebrates Gallipoli is that unlike so many European countries we can have a day of rememberance for war dead and be on perfectly good terms with former adversaries, even if we also travel there and use it as an excuse to get drunk. Sun 26 Apr 2009 11:25:13 GMT+1 klldbbydth It seems to me that Gallipoli is way overdone these days. Not in the sense that it's overdoing anything to have a day of rememberance for the veterans and casualties of war, but in the sense that we've tacked a load of other tripe onto it because we feel that all our previous history is either boring or embarrassing, so that it effectively becomes our national birth mythology. People are always saying that Australia was 'born' on 25/4/1915. Australia as a polity was founded 1/1/1901. Australia as a constitutionally independent polity was created decades later when the last legal ties to Britain were cut. And Australia as a country with its own national identity developed after or perhaps during World War Two. People conveniently forget or ignore the fact that our country's youth was sent to the other side of the planet to kill the youth of another country for King and Empire, not for Australia or mateship or whatever, and Anzac Day was originally instituted to celebrate that very act of sacrifice for and closeness to the mother country. It had nothing to do with this country being 'born' or becoming independent - in fact it reinforced the existing relationship of dependence. That is why it was hardly celebrated in the inter-war years - it was seen as having overtones of despised militarism! In my view, Keating was perfectly right to try to shift at least some of the emphasis onto a war in which Australia actually stood on its own feet and fought for not just for survival but also for universal principles, rather than dipping its hands in the blood of its youth to glue itself to Britain's coat tails.The other thing I tire of are all these claims about how mateship and egalitarianism are products of the trenches. Anyone with a little knowledge of Australian history knows that in the late 19th and early 20th century Australia was already known around the world as a country where rigid class divisions of the Old World did not apply, which was democratically advanced and engaging in ambitious, forward-thinking social experiments. Wartime experiences might have exemplified qualities of camaraderie, but everyone can quit claiming that we have a culture of egalitarianism due to World War One, because we don't! If we were a nation of aristocrats and serfs then the culture of the armed forces would have reflected that, not changed it. Personally I think it undermines the dignity of the occasion to tack all this other stuff onto it, especially because it seems to me that people do it out of insecurity, to satisfy themelves of Australia's adequacy as a country and culture. Sun 26 Apr 2009 11:22:42 GMT+1 Carltonblue I'm an Australian of continental European descent - both parents were born overseas (mum in Germany, dad in Hungary - both on the other side of both world wars). My grandfather was in the German army and fought and survived the Russian front and being a prisoner of war when his entire battalion died (in battle or of starvation). So Anzac Day should have little relevance to me. But it couldn't be further from the truth. It's not about glorification of war, it's about remembering heroism, of sacrifice for others in all wars. In fact out of Gallipoli, Australian kids have more knowledge of Simpson and his Donkey than Albert Jacka - who won three Victoria Crosses and survived the war!And the resurgence in popularity could also be driven by the fact the next generation of Anzacs are beginning to disappear - WW2. And that the stigma surrounding Vietnam is reducing.On turning our backs from Britain, sure keating did use his Irish heritage and the fall of Singapore to push his republic agenda, but other events in WW2 also helped create a natural shift away from the UK. The invading Japanese pushing into PNG, then an Australian protectorate and Australia's decision to recall its AIF troops, and ignore Churchill's bluff, to bolster its own defence are the start of that.But to suggest that Australia downplays British losses is ludicrous. Britain, with a larger population and army, of course lost more men. Although Australia's losses in WW1 were the worst per capita of population in the war. A generation of men lost in a young country is why the Anzac legend has grown as such. it's not militarism, it's acknowledgement of sacrifice and service. Sun 26 Apr 2009 05:07:59 GMT+1 FlindersRanges The revitalisation of ANZAC day I feel is a good thing, and reflects an Australia which still seems to be trying to come to grips with itself. Having lived in Australia for the past year, I find Australians surprisingly insecure and seeking validation of themselves, their history and Australia's place on the world stage at times, and I have to question why?It is certainly a country of "odd" contradictions.An example of such is ANZAC day, which has become it feels the central focus of remembrance for those from the Australian Armed Forces who have been killed or disabled in duty of country.ANZAC day is a good thing, having been a member of the UK armed forces, and having friends who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan I feel very strongly that sacrifices of the armed forces must be recognised and remembered, however I have had people here say to me "oh we have ANZAC day we don’t really commemorate Remembrance Sunday", to me it feels they have missed the point of these events.Australia should commemorate ANZAC Day absolutely; as surely the Canadians mark the disastrous Dieppe Raid which cost them thousands of lives in the Second World War, sadly the list is endless of such events.For me the point is we must remember the sacrifices made by the men and women of the Australian armed forces absolutely, but don't politicise it or pander to jingoism. Its about the Australians who have paid a terrible price for their country in its defence or in defence of its interests.Odd isn't how The Australian newspaper had a page article on a major increase in defence spending on ANZAC day based on the Rudd governments Defence White paper. Maybe I'm a bit cynical? Sun 26 Apr 2009 02:42:18 GMT+1 Bill You can analyse it all you want; you decry it as militarism; you can argue whether the legend is right or wrong but in the end it's the Australian people who will decide whether it's worthwhile observing or not and they are speaking with a loud voice. This has nothing to do with Britain or with past slights or betrayals, perceived or real. It is about a sovereign nation reaching out to create the myths and legends which sustain and nurture it, All nations have these; all nations have a perception of themselves which does not always align with the reality. Why shouldn't we?The Republic will come as day follows night; the Union flag will be taken off the flag and Britain will become to us just another small European country.This isn't anti British; it's evolution.I love my country, myths and all so, don't analyse Anzac Day because it's a thing of the heart; not the brain. Sun 26 Apr 2009 01:59:51 GMT+1 sydneycynic A person who denigrates others for celebrating/commemorating ANZAC Day can only be described as a "misery guts". The people who say the ANZACs themselves would have looked down on our behaviour have obviously bestowed upon them a sainthood they don't deserve. I know one of my uncles who fought in New Guinea always got blotto with his mates on ANZAC Day. This was partly due to him remembering his brother who was killed in a Lancaster over Germany. He never complained about the younger generation joining the occasion. In fact the VietNam veterans were upset because of their past ostracism. Also, before others bestow sainthood on the ANZACS you might want to read some of their own histories. For example, Edwin Lynch in his memoir, "Somme Mud" refers to one of his mates heating up coins at Capetown and then throwing them to blacks who jumped a mile when they tried to pick them up. In other words, people are people and 50 or 90 years doesn't change anything.As for neutrality I note "Mutikonka" quite conveniently omits other neutral countries who don't have fond memories of invading forces. Just ask the Dutch how well they fared with the Germans despite their neutrality. I'd like to think whether Mutikonka would even exist if everyone adopted a neutrality position with Hitler, Mussolini or Hirohito.As far as other ethnic groups being involved you should look at the profile of cabbies who have volunteered to drive our diggers before, during and after the march. The vast majority are from overseas and they are all prepared to do it for nothing.In closing, I think it is somewhat of a paradox that some of the people on this blog are pacifists. Regardless of this ideology they seem to get a kick out of creating division out of an occasion which has overwhelmingly good intentions. Sat 25 Apr 2009 13:40:45 GMT+1 wrpatton For several years now I have been surprised by how desperately Australians are trying to invent a national history for themselves - that is, a history that is larger than life. My father was a deeply patriotic man who fought in New Guinea during WWII - I don't think he would recognize this new Anzac Day. For him it was a time to remember his mates and those who died - not a time for jingoist myth making. Perhaps like the rest of the world Australians have seen too many American TV programs, where there always an up-front plot with a simplistic message. Australians like my Dad had no trouble knowing why they were fighting, and they carried no bitterness towards higher ups or the British Empire - it was precisely for that they were fighting. My Dad liked the idea of being part of a great whole, and of "doing his bit." He was neither a simple man nor a fool - and he had no desire to make his effort into a national epic. Sat 25 Apr 2009 12:43:45 GMT+1 danichols49 Its very strange that this is the biggest day of national pride, not federation day (forgotten) or australia day (just another public holiday). While I agree that those that gave the ultimate sacrifice should be remembered, the 'glory of war' is certainly given too much credence in these celebrations. If the government is to support a day of national celebration, shouldnt it be towards something more positive that celebrates our youthfulness/opportunity and diversity? Sat 25 Apr 2009 12:34:40 GMT+1 boils ANZAC day in Gallipoli is moving and tragic. Moving for the ceremony and tragic for what happens afterwards; everyone gets completely drunk and act like they are in Kuta. It's also a shame most remember their history from the Mel Gibson; English drinking tea on the beaches etc which is convenient for building Australian nationalism and pride when actually the real story is completely different. Two and a half time for Brits died at Gallipoli and the battle at Nek which the film portrays was led by Godley, an Australian.ANZAC is also a day for New Zealanders too who fought in the same battles, something Johnnie Howard seemed to deliberately forget in the name of political expediency. Sat 25 Apr 2009 11:45:55 GMT+1 Wombattler As a 5th gen Aussie growing up in a military family, having lost a grandfather in the Pacific war (never recovered), the current 'popularity' seems a bit strange. My family might've been one of the few around during the 1970's due to the continuing military service and remembrance of family lost. Though with all the contradictions between the Australia and Australians of then, and their experiences, with now, it's all a bit surprising for some. Seems to me to be very much a nation still looking for a story about itself that it can live with here, rather than just on a foreign battlefield. I also agree with treezycat. Except perhaps in the case of Turkish-Australians these days, with a weird connection through Gallipoli to Ataturk and the eventual forming of the modern Turkish nation. A mysteriously good uninteded(?) consequence of ANZAC celebrations could be the interest in friendship between peoples who once fought so bitterly (for someone elses interests in the case of Australia?). Even in my X-gen lifetime, this country has changed a lot, for better and worse, depending upon your viewpoint. My grandfather died as a British subject in 1945, as there was no such thing as an Australian citizen before ~1948. I don't think our current flag was even official or used formally either (a red ensign was the official flag I gather). As someone who would love to see it changed, it's tiresome and boring to see it waved around any more. Sat 25 Apr 2009 11:32:00 GMT+1 treezycat I do not want to denigrate the valour of Australian soldiers. However, I think there is more to ANZAC day than the commemoration of Australian valour. In some way, ANZAC day is a "dog whistle" of Anglo Australia, its an acceptable way for 6th generation Australians to wrap themselves in the flag and talk about Australian values and have nostalgia for a time before mass immigration. Howard could not be racist. But he could wax lyrical about mateship and Australian values and Australians circa 1915....Ever notice how many 2nd or 3rd generation Greeks, Lebanese, Italians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipinos are in the parades or at the marches? I remember going to a dawn service once and someone saying "what are you doing here? you people were on the other side during World War One". This is a celebration that a big chunk of the multi-cultural Australian population cannot connect to. And that is exactly the point. Sat 25 Apr 2009 09:26:00 GMT+1 _surtr_ It seems odder to venerate such a solemn occasion by partying hard, getting thoroughly drunk by 3pm and riding shotgun with your mates, yelling at people as you drive past them. I'm not sure that's exactly what our Anzacs had in mind when they went off to war. Sat 25 Apr 2009 08:45:46 GMT+1 Mick How come Sweden, Switzerland and Thailand, surrounded by warring nations for centuries, get to celebrate neutrality, while Australia 'girt by sea' and with no enemies on the horizon, glories in its military exploits on behalf of others? Every country needs a national legend, and this one, that went on a fast track from squatting on black fella's land to suburbia in three generations, has the ANZACs.The ANZAC legend also covers up the awkward fact that Australia's military leadership has often been abysmal (Blamey, anyone?) and that huge sections of the population refused to sign up to the ANZACs at the time, such was the sectarian hatred between Catholics and Protestants. Oh, and Simpson (of donkey fame) was a Geordie who wanted to go back to Tyneside. Sat 25 Apr 2009 08:41:24 GMT+1 Llanelliboy As a newcomer to Australia, I understand the notion of the 'ANZAC Spirit' being created at Gallipoli but surely there are victories to concentrate on, rather than a battle where the diggers were used as cannon fodder by Churchill.It seems odd to venerate such a disaster Sat 25 Apr 2009 08:17:03 GMT+1 brightSharon I think there is a generational factor at work in the interest among the young. I am a teacher of mostly eight and nine year olds, and the Anzac Ceremony is the most serious ceremony of the year in our public school. The children love to tell the stories of their grandparents and great-gradparents who were involved in wars and show any medals etc. When I was at school the ceremony was similar but it was the parents of my generation who were in WW2 and my own peers who would later be in Vietnam. I think that it is a factor of the process on individualising that children often temporarily reject many of their parents' values but embrace those of their grandparents.You see this, unfortunately, in the great reluctance of the many children of migrants to learn their parents' original languages properly but see the next generation embracing the grandparents' background. Witness the great pride the latest winner of Australia's Got Talent has in his grandparents' culture.My European born husband insisted that we go to Gallipoli for Anzac Day when it happened we would be in Turkey at that time. As his father had been a prisoner of war on the other side I was somewhat surprised! Our London-based daughter came with us and there were, in our group, at least two young people escorting elderly grandparents on the trip. I think the young were incredibly moved to realise that the soldiers so long ago shared their love of travel but were so much younger than they, and their fate was so dreadful. I thought the crowd beautifully behaved and respectful. Sat 25 Apr 2009 06:49:30 GMT+1 scotinbrisvegas The ressurgence of interest in ANZAC Day seems to correlate with the increased operations of the Australian forces in places like the Middle East, and the obvious sorrow of the all too regular news of servicemen fatalities. It's would be more surprising if the Government here (and elsewhere) didn't try to stoke up a form of national sentiment to help ease over the doubts of the modern wars and their less certain morality/purpose. Much the same way as the UK's Remembrance Day has, the intertwining of remembrance of all conflicts I feel undermines the core reasons for the official memorial day, and obviously it helps any Government if its electorate has a clear understanding of the differences between the circumstances of the Great war and subsequent military actions. The politicians will love drawing on the 'anzac spirit' in current operations - giving those wars a nobility and dignity they scarecly deserve. Sat 25 Apr 2009 02:52:30 GMT+1 Whitlamite "The Australian historian Martin Crotty has some really interesting things to say. He calls Gallipoli "an almost biblical creation story, a national equivalent of the Book of Genesis". By this assessment, it offered a more heroic narrative than the arrival of the first fleet in 1788, and the destruction of indigenous lives and culture which that led to."The events in January 1788 didn't involve any Australians, aside from the indigenous people present at the time. Are you surprised, Nick that Anzac day is more universally respected and marked than 'Australia' day?ANZAC day is incredibly important to Australia, because it constituted a psychological shift. For the first time we sent our own army to another country to fight in a foreign war and our armies were nearly completely annihilated. In order to survive Gallipoli, the Australians and the New Zealanders demonstrated such incredible heroism and loyalty, and through their gallantry they helped establish a unique national character for the new nations (worthy remembering that Australia was less than 20 years old at the time). Despite the fact that Australia's first international war was the Second Boer War, it was the horrendous experience of the Dardanelles and the other WWI theatres that left a lasting impression - almost wiping out an entire generation of young men. On ANZAC day we commemorate the spirit of loyalty, survival, and bravery that those soldiers demonstrated in the face of an impossible and tragic situation. I think that's the ultimate point of April 25th. Fri 24 Apr 2009 15:08:46 GMT+1 TrnOvrANwLeaf Setting aside what I said previously, could anyone tell me what would be the obvious attractions in the Gallipoli Campaign if I were to discount 'black armband' history? And in what ways were the Pacific Theatre seen as in alignment with 'black armband' history? No rhetoric here. I honestly don't know. Thanks. Fri 24 Apr 2009 14:55:09 GMT+1 pciii I'm very happy to be in a country that remembers to remember. I don't have a problem with a fact that such tremendous contributions helped to create a sense of national identity. Some may use these sacrifices as an anti-British point, but those that count will just be remembering those that were lost in all the wars that Australians fought in, regardless of their views on the wars themselves. Fri 24 Apr 2009 13:56:15 GMT+1 TrnOvrANwLeaf Great write-up on the diverse implications of Anzac Day stemming from differing vantage points, Nick.I think this Anzac Day renaissance is also invigorated by the increasing uncertainty of our country's direction and, not coincidentally, the unravelling economic crisis. Having something concrete and majestic to fall back on amid a relentlessly changing economic, social and political landscape gives us a source of pride and confidence.As mawkish and flimsy as this may sound, I think Anzac Day and the stories of heroism and mateship that parade with it help to reassure us we have a history under our belt to brave whatever's in our way, be it an impending recession, a shifting in the global pecking order, a natural disaster or a regional uncertainty. Anzac is, I guess, one of the shiniest part of modern Australian history. It brought us closer on par with Britain and other post-industrialized Allied powers amid a twist of faith. I mean, to put it bluntly, the wars gave us a chance to show off our diggers and, by extension, this sunburnt continent of ours. To commemorate Anzac Day is to celebrate the best of Australia. Not a bad sense-of-pride-and-belonging insulin shot. As to the politicizing of Anzac Day, to be honest, I couldn't care less which battle is being promoted more. It's the spirit behind that counts. However I don't see why Anzac Day should be in any way tied up to this so-called 'black armband' viewpoint. A legacy doesn't have to be spotless, we have since moved on with Kevin's official sorry and 'self-flagellation' is just for ostriches, well, emus. Fri 24 Apr 2009 13:43:41 GMT+1 wollemi Federation was fascinating, full of high drama and florid personalities, It was an on/off venture for over 20 years.However, regarding ANZAC DayI think it's difficult for non participants like Britain to comprehend just how unpopular the Vietnam War was in Australia by the late 1960s. It caused intense social division, made worse by the fact there was a form of birthday ballot conscription, and conscription has always in itself caused divisionSo ANZAC Day suffered for attention as a result, I feel, over that periodHoward had both his father and grandfather serve on the Western Front and that likely influenced his focus to WW1. The Pacific War has always been a much more meaningful war to Australians than to Europeans, for obvious reasons, long before Keating was PM.In other words I don't think Australians take much notice of politicians when it comes to commemorating ANZAC Day In my rural part of NSW we will have a short ceremony at the village War Memorial, place some flowers on the Memorial for those listed, remember NZ with some flowers also, raise the Australian and NZ flags and follow up with a morning tea. I can't see anything quasi religious about that unless someone has blessed the scones for morning tea Fri 24 Apr 2009 13:06:01 GMT+1 newsjock Unless the Aussie Government is openly orchestrating Anzac activities (and your piece seems to say "not"), there must be a growing feel of national identity and pride in the land.We can therefore appreciate more easily why Australia wants to limit immigration and retain a degree of separation from other countries and national groupings.That preferred detachment is very understandable. As well as being stabbed in back by Winston Churchill, Ted Heath used the knife to very good effect again in the 1970's.That was when he dragged us into the EEC (now EU) and we had to relinquish commercial ties with all our Commonwealth friends. These commercial ties had been literally life-long for countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and they had to drastically restructure their trading partnership over a period of 2 years.I therefore admire Oz for its independence and resilience over the past 60 years. Fri 24 Apr 2009 12:21:41 GMT+1