“I had been on Gallipoli only six days short of four months and I want to say now that they were the worst four months of my whole life. I had seen many men die horribly, and had killed many myself, and lived in fear most of the time. And it is terrible to think that it was all for nothing.
…People do terrible things in wars, in the name of their country and beliefs. It is something that I find very sad and frightening.”
A.B. Facey, A Fortunate Life
ANZAC day, which commemorates the 1915 battle of Gallipoli in Turkey, has become a quasi-religious sacrament for Australians. As a recent immigrant to Australia, I have not been brought up in this particular religion, although it echoes the “military worship” that is so prevalent in the US.
If I was a religious person, I might consider the whole thing to be a form of blasphemy. People gather around a statue or secular altar such as a town hall, listen to secular sermons, and bow their heads in contemplation – while praising martyrs who died for our salvation.
And to top it all off, they take communion in the form of ANZAC biscuits and tea.
Now, the above critique is superficial at best, and I’m not quite that cynical. That’s not what this post is about.