During an Anzac Day address in 2013, the former Governor of Tasmania, the Hon. Peter Underwood AC, emphasised the following: “All our remembrances and honours are meaningless, unless we also vow to become resolute about peace because that is what those whom we remember and honour on this special day thought they were dying for.”1
In keeping with this memorable statement, an Anzac Day Reflection was held in Richardson’s Lookout – Marrickville Peace Park on Tuesday 25 April from 10.30am to 11.30am.
The event was organised by Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign (GCPC) and attracted 17 people from a range of groups, ages and backgrounds.
Introduced by John Butcher, GCPC’s Convener, speakers included Jennifer Newman, a local Wiradjuri woman, and Fr Claude Mostowik, National President of Pax Christi Australia.
Jennifer provided an Acknowledgement of Country and spoke about the devastating impact of the Frontier Wars on Indigenous peoples, as well as Australia’s destructive military engagements in colonising wars in other countries.2
Fr Claude spoke about the horrors of war and the need to develop a culture of peace.
These speeches were followed by contributions from many participants who shared the experiences of relatives during WW1 and WW2 as well as their own personal experiences during the Vietnam War.
The event concluded with Fr Claude Mostowik proffering a number of resolutions. These are reproduced below:
“Let us desire and work so that leaders of nations promote the freedom and dignity of their people, and place justice and quality of life above wealth and power so that:
- We may value all life on earth, seek greater understanding and solidarity among people and languages, and be at peace and friendship with all;
- People in religious and political leadership continually proclaim the good news of peace and justice without fear or compromise;
- The people of Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand on this Anzac Day remember those who have died in all wars, and the people who continue to be affected by war;
- The voices of those who speak out for peace and solidarity among people also be listened to;
- Parents, teachers and educators through their generosity and service see their work as a way of building a new human society;
- People living in places of war and conflict may see that vengeance produces more violence, trauma and greater insecurity;
- All people, known and unknown, who witness for peace and reconciliation in conflict situations – may they not be disheartened when ridiculed by political leaders for their stand.”
1. The Anzac Day address by Peter Underwood AC on 25 April 2013 can be read here.
2. An early example of Australia’s engagement in a colonising war was the Boer War 1899-1902. Australia lost 600 men in this three-year conflict which was fought in South Africa and had nothing to do with Australia. Coinciding with Federation, the war kickstarted Australia’s commitment to fighting in Britain’s wars overseas, and forged a national identity around it. By 1902, when the Boer War ended, a mythology about our colonial soldiers had already been forged, and a dangerous precedent set. Refer to Henry Reynold’s account of Australia’s engagement in this war in Unnecessary Wars, NewSouth, Apr 2016. Also Mark McKenna’s review of Unnecessary Wars can be read here.