Saturday 25th April – 5 months, 9 days
Went to the Anzac Day service at the Phoenix Barracks this morning. Like the Canberra service, which I’ve been to 5 times now, it was pretty heavy on the religious aspect. I have attended so many Anzac Day services where the Lord’s Prayer was read out that I now know it by heart from this alone. I enjoyed it like usual though and this year I also sang the New Zealand national anthem, very, very quietly* (learnt it at choir).
I like that feeling of connection to Australia, the knowledge that there are other people all up in the lovely early pre-dawn air at similar services around Australia and the rest of the world. There was a big turnout – a few hundred people, much larger than I expected, but I had forgotten that there would be compulsory attendance for the NZ and Australian troops stationed in Timor. I also enjoyed the novelty of being warm at an Anzac Day service - usually I have to wear five layers of clothing.
Most of the other volunteers, including the new AYADs, were there. Whenever *anything* is on in this town for expats, they turn out in droves, as there’s not that many events. This even drove people from other countries who had no idea what Anzac Day was to go, which I found a bit strange. I also discovered that most other people who are small-l liberal leftie types like me do not usually go to Anzac Day services. I am an anomaly. Reasons for non-attendance tend to include:
• Don’t like the glorification of war
• Think the celebration of a military defeat to create a folk history for Australia’s ‘birth as a nation’ is a silly concept
• Event is very male- and white-centric
I agree with all of these things. I go anyway, mainly because many members of my family have been involved in the armed forces and intelligence forces. I benefit from their efforts, even though I think that war is an inherently outdated and ridiculous political negotiation tool which hurts too many people (understatement of the century). I feel getting up early one day a year to honour that effort is the least I can do. It’s my version of a peace protest.
My grandparents, who met while working in intelligence in World War II; a great grandfather who apparently went AWOL to shack up with a girl for a few days (that’s my kind of deserter, hah!); and my dad’s two older brothers, one who went to Vietnam, one who saw service in Singapore. My friend Mike who is a mechanic in the armed services now. And others that I have forgotten.
Thankyou. I wish you never had to do it.
- Which is very heavy on the God aspect, too.