It’s ANZAC Day, but I’m not celebrating.
I’m fascinated by Australian history, my Grandfather fought on the Western Front, I’ve written two books about Australia’s involvement in World War 1, and I will attend an ANZAC Day Parade and service today. But I’m still not celebrating.
Why? Because ANZAC Day should not be a celebration. A celebration is a party – you can celebrate a birthday, a wedding, Christmas, a new job, a lottery win. But when we remember the one hundredth anniversary of the first landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers at Gallipoli, that’s not a celebration.
Instead, today is a day for remembrance, for commemoration. We pause and we remember that day one hundred years ago. We remember those days before and since when men and women have fought for their country in Turkey, in Palestine, on the Western Front, in Asia, in Papua New Guinea, in Korea, in Vietnam, in Australia, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and elsewhere. That is a long list. Too long.
That’s my point. We remember. We mourn. We respect. But we should not be happy that these things have happened. Instead we pause to remember so that we can pay our respects for what they did and what they went through – and so we can look forward. War is terrible. If we look back, on days like today, through reading and listening to stories, through film and tv, in school classrooms, maybe we can learn and work out a way towards a peaceful future.
So, what am I doing today? Remembering, paying my respects and praying for a peaceful future.