By Phil Smith
Around Australia this ANZAC Day, we’ll see – as we see every year – parades and uniforms and medals, ageing ex-soldiers, thousands waving flags, horses, laying of wreaths, and all the other appropriate ways of remembering.
Our governments and the media will make a big deal of this day. Like many thousands of others, I will stand in a minute’s silence to pay respect to those who have died in wars defending this country.
But I have started to wonder. If we asked those who have fallen, “Is it enough that we march in memory of your sacrifices? Is it enough to stand in silence for a minute and remember you?”
I wonder if they’d chuckle and reply, “Is that all you’re doing? Look, if you’re just waving flags and marching, don’t bother.”
Isn’t it about time we lifted our thoughts out of the traditional ‘remembrance’ groove and placed them in the ‘do something’ track? Wouldn’t it be more a mark of respect for those who have died in wars for us to be able to demonstrate real action at personal, national and global levels to prevent wars?
Yes, there are constant efforts at achieving peace here and peace there. I accept that a world always at peace and living in harmony is probably unlikely. Delusional, perhaps, to think we could be at peace all the time. But not unrealistic to strive for it…
For this year of 2021 and all the years that follow, what about an extra minute’s silence on ANZAC Day. Let’s not ask our communities and schools and businesses to just stand for one minute in a reverent, sombre silence with thoughts of the dead.
Let’s ask people to stand for an extra minute. A joyous silence thinking about how to be peaceful as individuals, as members of families and workplaces and communities, and as Australians.
And let’s each of us make a quiet commitment to doing at least one thing for peace that we have not done before. Let’s see something positive rise from the ashes and chaos of war… Let’s dream of that peaceful world.
And we ought to demand of our governments a similar commitment. Perhaps an annual statement on what they have ‘achieved’ – not just promised – in the previous 12 months in winning and securing peace.
Also, if we have to use the term ‘ANZAC Spirit’, let’s think of it as existing not in fighting wars but in preventing them. A spirit of peace not aggression. A spirit of cooperation and a vision for something better.
It is a spirit all of us can have, not just those in uniforms and wars. Everyone can wear such an ANZAC spirit with pride.
Feature image: Poppies. Photo credit: Pfeiffer/Shutterstock.com