On ANZAC Day, I believe it is important to not only remember those who have selflessly served our nation, but to think about how we remember them and what message is being delivered about war. I think the meaning of ANZAC Day is changing right in front of our eyes, and we are being blinded by a sea of poppies.
ANZAC is an anagram, standing for ‘Australian New Zealand Army Corps’, yet ANZAC is very rarely written in capital letters as an anagram anymore. Even major news corporations write ‘Anzac’, turning it into a single individual word and completely changing its meaning.
So often I think we forget about our neighbours, New Zealand, who are just as much a part of the ANZAC spirit as the Australian troops. In fact, they make up more of the word than we do. By only capitalising the ‘A’ in ANZAC we are reinforcing the importance of Australian troops, while minimising the significance of the soldiers from across the ditch.
Although pointing out these things may seem like nit-picking, I believe these small changes are what ultimately reshape tradition and legacy. It’s important to analyse the way we remember war, as this will often influence the way a younger generation views it. Are we depicting war as a horrific and unjust slaughter of human life? Or are we glorifying those who have served and justifying mass violence?
I know that when I hear the word ANZAC I immediately think of the soldiers who fought at Gallipoli. I do not think of the troops on the Western Front, who made up 87% of the Australian casualties in World War I. It takes me a while to remember the men and women who served in World War II and every other war that has followed since. The legacy and meaning of ANZAC has become so specific to one place and one time.
I believe that as a nation, we are forgetting or downplaying the sacrifices of everyone else who has served, in order to glorify what was a courageous and unifying event for our nation, but ultimately an invasion and total defeat.
Let us use ANZAC Day to remember those who served and those who died, but also to remember that they did not have to meet that fate. That war is not an adventure or coming of age ritual, but unnecessary violence and a waste of human life.