Last year was the first time I met someone who is ‘against’ Anzac Day, because they believe it glorifies war.
I now know that there are many among us who feel the same way, and have no intention of paying respects tomorrow, or may even intend to oppose the celebrations themselves.
The thing is, I have never, ever, felt that war is glorified on Anzac or Remembrance Day. The ‘celebration’ is not a celebration of war; it is the celebration of those who died for their countries, their families and their friends. I have never heard in any memorial service even a tone of praise for war. I have only ever heard the solemn reminder of the sacrifice, loss and tragedy that war brings – the tragedy that our Australian and New Zealand soldiers faced on the front line, and knew more than we ever will.
I have never known a soldier who, after returning from the battle field, glorifies what they saw or did. I have never known a soldier whose face, when asked about their time served, does not grow dark.
And on the contrary, I do not hear at all any tone of peace or love in the refusal to celebrate the lives of those soldiers lost. I hear merely the ignorant and self-absorbed lack of gratitude of a generation who has never had to know the horrors of a World War at the expense of those gone before us. I hear a violent and aggressive refusal to acknowledge that the freedom we enjoy today was bought with the lives of good men and women who went to war. And I hear sincerely selfish immaturity. If you cannot separate the ability to honour those who sacrificed their lives for us from the love of war, it says more about you than anything or anyone else.
War is rarely the answer, and should be avoided with great diligence. But only the most ignorantly idealistic of people can say that, in this life, it is never the answer.
War should never be glorified. The loss of innocent lives should always be repugnant.
War is the stark and sombre reminder of how fallen humankind is; of our treacherous nature.
But the day we refuse to honour our fallen soldiers and give gratitude for their sacrifice is the day we choose arrogance over humility. The day we do not sincerely remember the cost of this country’s freedom is the day we have lost ourselves, and the day that history will begin to repeat itself.
So – At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.
Lest we forget.