WHY I WON'T RAISE A GLASS TO THE ANZAC MYTHApril 25, 2016
I'VE spent all day pondering how I feel about Anzac Day. My Facebook feed is full of uniformed Girl Guide friends at either the dawn ...
I'VE spent all day pondering how I feel about Anzac Day. My Facebook feed is full of uniformed Girl Guide friends at either the dawn or mid-morning service and the news is headlined with stories of bravery, stoicism and mate-ship. The Last Post sounds and the newsreader is silent.
Today, this talk of bravery and heroic sticks in my craw. I question the bravery. I question the heroism. I question the stories of legends. I question the 'myth'.
I believed in the Anzac myth once. I have missed only a handful of Anzac Day services over my lifetime and my family has its own proud stories of wartime service.
But the glow of the Anzac legend is tarnished. Tarnished by a man deployed to Afghanistan, not once but twice. I refrain from using the word 'served'. He was doing his job. He was a career soldier and he saw the financial benefit of deploying. He was sold the myth. He'll tell you now he was a hero, that he served his country, that he deserves my respect.
But, today, he's telling that story from gaol. Two tours and the career soldier is a ruined man. His wife and infant son - my stepdaughter and grandson - now live with my partner and I. The myth could not sustain them. It did not buy them a house, or give their first-born an easy and worry-free entry to life. Hell, it didn't even give him a father, and what little he did see of him was moody at best, violent at its worst.
As she rebuilds her life and we adjust ours, if there is anyone to call brave, it's the families of these broken men.
Today, I snarl at the semantics of Anzac Day, like legend, hero and spirit, and think more of the broken, cast aside and downright destroyed.
As for 'Lest We Forget', don't worry. I will never.
#image: A postcard found among my late Great Aunt's possessions following her death last year. The image is the ruined streets following the World War I battle of Verdun. The pin is my Great Aunt's too.