ANZAC – Are we forgetting?


In recent ANZAC Day sound-bites, we seem to be celebrating soldiers as glorious, wonderful, self-sacrificing heroes, AS IF THAT’S ALL ANZAC Day, or Remembrance Day is about. It’s about remembering the cost of their sacrifice, so that we live worthy of their sacrifice.

General Peter Cosgrove says the fallen soldiers “would hate to be remembered as anything other than ordinary people.”* Yet some are starting to glorify the soldiers.

Did we forget the “Lest we forget”# of ANZAC Day? It means:

– to remember the loved ones lost, because we loved them,

– to remember how pointless & terrible war is, and not do it again! In fact the Kipling’s original phrase is supposed to be about remembering the past so that we’re not doomed to repeat it.

The soldiers themselves simply want to remember their mates. But what do they want US to remember? The bloodshed. The sacrifice – because if we don’t remember that, we’ll slowly start to rationalize another war. The more removed we are from the front, the easier it is to resort to the simplistic solution, “Oh, we’ll just go to war again!”

We’re supposed to remember the cost of war  – too many of our children lost in the flower of their youth, too many atrocities, so we better work our collective butts off to find better ways of resolving conflicts. Only then are we worthy of their sacrifice.

“We will remember them,” is not to promote the fallen to a kind of immortality, as a kind of carrot to the next generation of soldiers. But remembering them is to feel the pain of losing them, and to resolve to not do it again to another generation.

Have we, in fact, forgotten the very thing we’re not to forget?

Lately it seems that ANZAC Day has been pressed into the service of supporting the war effort, almost as if working to stop the war would be an act of disloyalty to our lads!

The exact opposite of the original ANZAC day sentiment.

We’re starting to forget the horror of war, and merely glorify the soldiers.

Now it IS important to remember the soldiers. They made the ultimate sacrifice, and we better be grateful to them for for that.

AND it is worth remembering & emulating the courage of the ANZACs…

BUT the courage we’re to show, is NOT by going to war again!  Rather, by trying all means to avoid it. To critique war, and to end it asap. That’s what truly honors their sacrifice. To use our freedom to make the world more just & merciful, where everyone at least has enough, so that war need never happen again.

Or did we forget that part?

Michael Travers gets this, in his song, The Last Anzac:

If we need to solve a problem, can we talk it through?
The water looks much better when it’s blue.
Remember the last ANZAC and how he cried for peace.
Forever under gum trees, blue skies over m
e.

Will we hold the ANZAC courage and join our hands in peace?
Will we hold the ANZAC courage and join our hands in peace?
Will we hold the ANZAC courage and join our
hearts in peace?

THAT takes courage. To work for peace, to join hands with the “enemy” is a vulnerable act, especially when faced with those who are quick to use violence. It takes courage to stand firm, under a hail of violence, armed only with the ANZAC courage of a conviction that there must be a better way than violence.

To befriend. To be vulnerable. To be the change we want to see. That takes ANZAC courage.
And we’re to try to invent better ways of resolving the conflict – THAT takes ANZAC ingenuity.

“Surely, we should be able to understand that in between war and passivity, there are a thousand possibilities.” – Howard Zinn.

ANZAC Day implores us, begs us, to think of those thousand possibilities and use those instead.
For example, do the Beatitudes, and practice the ingenious, wily, non-violent ways of fighting described in the Sermon on the Mount, practiced by Jesus, and in turn by the likes of Ghandhi, Tutu, & Martin Luther King Jr.

This is the Call of ANZAC Day:

to remember the soldiers
& their sacrifice – the cost of war,
so to imagine better ways than war,
and fight sacrificially in those better ways,
for justice, and for the weak, and for the next generation.

Or did we forget?


* In the current radio advertisement for Legacy.

# The words “Lest We Forget” form the refrain of “Recessional”. The phrase became popular as a warning about the perils of hubris and the inevitable decline of imperial power.
The history of western Christendom shows a recurrent pattern. When nations rise to wealth and power they are inclined to forget their God. The understanding was that it was Divine Providence who brought them the material and spiritual blessings that nurtured them into a position of greatness among the nations. Here are the telling lines of Rudyard Kipling’s poem.

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet.
Lest we forget—lest we forget!

The line “that we will not forget” says it was the Way of God which enabled the British to be the empire they then were. Written for the queen’s jubilee, this refers to her title of defender of the faith and, in essence the burden to rule over the less privileged.

When we forget the Ways of God (of compassion & mercy, and humble active faith) the rot sets in. “Lest we forget—lest we forget!”

The phrase later passed into common usage after World War I, becoming linked with Remembrance Day observations; it came to be a plea not to forget past sacrifices, and was often found as the only wording on war memorials, or used as an epitaph.


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