Anzac Day Reflection – 25th April 2021

Jennifer Newman & John Butcher – click to enlarge

This year’s Anzac Day Reflection was held in Richardson’s Lookout – Marrickville Peace Park.

The occasion offered participants an opportunity to remember the loss of all Australian servicemen and women in WW1 and subsequent wars, together with those harmed physically and psychologically and the grief endured by their families.

As the name suggests, however, Anzac Day Reflections aim to do more than recognise Australian casualties resulting from military service in foreign lands. In the spirit of genuine remembrance, they offer participants the opportunity to ask some hard questions, such as how our nation became involved in these wars, what purposes were actually being served, and what mistakes may have been made in prolonging hostilities.

Anzac Day commemorations tend to ignore such questions in favour of celebrating “sacrifice and heroism” along with fostering such fictions as the nation was born at Gallipoli and our national identity was established in wartime.1

In other words, we need to learn from past military tragedies so we can minimise the chance of them occurring in the future.

This year’s event, facilitated by John Butcher, involved a variety of contributions motivated by these sentiments.2 These included:

Linda Burney MP, who was invited to draw the winning raffle ticket, actually drew one of her own.  Magnanimously she declined the prize and drew another belonging to Jennifer Newman, a Wiradjuri woman and Inner West resident.

An important feature of Anzac Day Reflections is the opportunity it offers participants to present their own stories and reflections on war and peace. This event was no exception, with many people stepping forward to share their thoughts and experiences.

Topics included:

Befitting this Anzac Day Reflection are the words of Henry Reynolds:

At the moment when we remember the sacrifice of our war dead, we completely ignore the suffering and the death of people of the first nations in the frontier wars which effected the long drawn out conquest of indigenous Australia. Our national lament is for those who died overseas in wars chosen for us by our great and powerful friends, most of the time against enemies who would never have been able to threaten Australia. How is that commensurate with frontier wars fought in Australia about the ownership and control of the continent itself? For us this must be of far greater significance than the balance of power in Europe or the scramble to carve up the remains of the Ottoman Empire.3

References
1. Marilyn Lake, Militarising Australian history, MAPW, Feb 2012.
2. View the event’s program and leaflet.
3. Henry Reynolds, ‘Anzac Day’, Pearls and Irritations, Apr 24, 2019.

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