Assumed that Anzac Day in its function as a national day is an invention (Seal 4), the question arises what understandings of the day are imposed on the recipients and how. A central point in this discussion is the idea that Anzac Day as a national myth builds a connection between the private life and public history in the form of national sentiment as addressed by Davison (2003), Seal (2004), McKenna & Ward (2007), and White (2003). In comparing media material about Anzac Day from 1968 and 2009 I will look at how the establishment of this connection is aimed at in a militaristic framework and how understandings of it differ. Furthermore, I will investigate in how far notions beyond this militaristic context are incorporated. How is the commemoration of Anzac Day understood in relation to a rising multiplicity of Anzac understandings?
In 1968 the Courier Mail, while focusing on organisational facts, the weather and subsequent entertainment concerning the approaching Anzac Day, describes the event of 1915 in a sober manner: “Because Britain was involved in a European war we, too, became involved. So did New Zealand. Thus Anzac” (A long way 2). The article does not focus on “great war deeds”, although acknowledging the day’s roots in remembering the fighting men, but sees Anzac Day now predominantly as a day to commemorate the improvements Australia has accomplished since then in detaching itself from the influences of Britain and setting up a “new nationhood” (A long way 2). The Anzac parade and the marching of the diggers, which experienced heavy rain and march cancellations in that year, is presented as pathetic and redundant when it says that “Brisbane on Anzac Day was a cold, empty city” (It just didn’t seem to be Anzac Day 1). Marchers were “confused” and “wondering around seeking information” (Angry at no Anzac Show 3). In the light of human reality diggers are seen as invalid old men and mutual recriminations between organisers and marchers display an unstable and fading Anzac spirit.
The Australian accompanies these 1968 portrayals when appealing “not to glorify these wars and those who survived them but to remember those who died in them and hope it was worth it” (Pinpointing the spirit of Anzac 6). The Anzac spirit is understood as protecting the freedom which, with reference to Vietnam, is argued to not always be viable (Pinpointing 6). Numerous demonstrations against Anzac Day carrying messages such as “Anzac Justifies Vietnam Murders” (The ranks 3) reflect this.
Thus, in an atmosphere of humanity and international orientation the Anzac spirit seems to fail to connect the personal and the public life of people, either portrayed as reflection on delimiting nationalistic ideas or as an unaccomplishable peace mission.
- Quote paper
- Annika Onken (Author), 2009, Issues in Australian Studies: Anzac Day, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/137781