As a young’un, I remember ANZAC Day was a reserved day of quiet contemplation and respect for the fallen who fought in wars and conflicts.
Nowadays, it seems, it’s treated more as an alternative Australia Day.
And that’s okay with me, so long as the original sentiment is not forgotten. But some traditionalists are concerned that ANZAC Day is viewed by too many as a celebration and not so much as a commemoration, that it is overrun by hype and nationalism and is treated by some as ‘just a day off work’.
You might think that when the last of the Gallipoli veterans passed, that the day itself might have lost significance. Not so. ANZAC Day crowds have grown to record numbers. Festivals fire up after dawn services. Expect to find expensive food trucks, vendors selling overpriced ‘patriotic’ products and whatever other commercial opportunities can be milked from ‘Australian pride’ – oh, and the odd Australian Armed Services stall here and there.
A day that was once set aside to honour and respect the ANZACs has become a day of flag-waving and jingoism.
Last year, around $320 million was spent to mark the 100th anniversary of ANZAC Day – $140 million of which came from taxpayers.
While honouring the heroism, bravery and commitment to freedom shown by our long fallen soldiers is certainly not to be scorned, could that money have been better spent on helping living service personnel?
Hundreds of defence force personnel suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Many veterans struggle to cope when they return to civilian life, sometimes resulting in drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and mental health issues. That $140 million would have gone a long way to easing their situations.
The ANZAC Day slogan is Lest we forget. Have we forgotten the true meaning of this solemn day? Why not tell us what you think in our Friday Flash Poll?
What is ‘the ANZAC spirit’? What does ANZAC Day mean to you? Why not share your opinion in the comments section below?