The Forum: 'A gentle submission: ANZAC Day' by Muffy

From the Web 1.0 days I bring you The Forum. To preserve them for posterity as Geocities can no longer be found but also it's fun to re-read some of them.

Muffy was an old friend of mine from Brisbane, hence her column title "Brisbane Rantings". I wonder what Muffy (not her really name of course) is doing now.

"A gentle submission: ANZAC Day"
26th April, 2001

Wednesday April 25 this year was a beautiful day in Brisbane. I can honestly say that every Autumn I appreciate the days as if they had never before existed. Today was no exception: just like summer but without the sweat.

It being ANZAC Day: public holiday - meaning no work and not much else to do with a mid week day off, with all the shops shut, I decided to do something different and actually go to the big parade and check it all out for myself.

I was overwhelmed.

What I remember of ANZAC Day from my school years was hours of embarrassing exposure to the public in some kind of awful uniform and trying like mad to do anything to get out of it. Hoping against hope that none of my friends from school would see me and praying for a flood or tornado to deliver me from this hell.

I must be growing up: today, there was no way I was going to miss this parade. It's easy to look on the military (or any organisation, lets face it, but I'm trying to focus here....) with some disdain. Maybe it's the uniforms, the discipline, all that seemingly pointless marching - a structured lifestyle that I am sure would not suit most: yet, the community fairly takes foregranted that if it were ever to be required, it would be there. Just as we take foregranted that fireman (God bless their big yellow pants..) will put fires out and policemen will arrest criminals. So, I seem to have found a new respect for the individuals who make up the military.

I was impressed that this seemed to me a solemn but happy parade: remembering those soldiers who did not return, and also thanking those who did. The emotion obvious on the faces of those who marched in the stead of a relative who could not be there. I was impressed too, that the parade seemed to encompass so many different nations and eras and soldiers and I wondered if the lines between "us" and "the enemy" were becoming less and less easy to define since they all seemed to be marching in the same parade. (Then mind wandered off on an existential track about the nature of politics, armies and individuals....only to be snapped back by the pretty shiny).

It's a startling realisation (and think me niave here...)that we may never stop adding wars, or 'peace-keeping' to the rememberance roll-call. It scares me that there have been additions not only in my lifetime, but in the last three years. Actually, it has scared me right out of the fairy land I must have been living in, to think that there were no active servicepersons since Vietnam (which ended the year I was born so I wasn't much interested in that). Honestly, I didn't really think about it much at all. And I am sure I am not alone in this, which is why I guess I found myself looking at these people marching past in a new light: that they spend their time and their lives on an ideal I have never given thought too, even though it may have benefitted or affected me.

I was chewing over these concepts as I looked on from behind the barricade when I recognised my best friend, marching with the Army Nurses Corps. She didn't look embarrassed, or try to hide under her slouch hat, she looked proud. And she had every right to be.

[For those of you who wouldn't know (just as I wouldn't know every other country's rememberance days..) ANZAC Day is Australia and New Zealand's memorial day for fallen and returned soldiers. In every city, and a lot of towns, returned and current soldiers/sailors/airforcemen march in a parade. Just like every where else in the world.]


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