Days like Anzac Day and Remembrance Day are days upon which to reflect the sheer futility and stupidity of war. To think of the millions of people killed senselessly because their King/Kaiser/Tsar commanded it and the lives of those who lived through it irrevocably altered. The war to end all wars sowed the seeds for an even greater and catastrophic event, yet it is the Great War to which people are drawn to commemorate.
It is seen in the memorials in towns and cities across Australia, the arches of victory, the avenues of honour, the cenotaphs. It is seen in the rhetoric of politicians who strive to extol the virtues of the Australian diggers, fighting for King and country as a national force, and who hope that that of the virtue rubs off on them.
Anzac Day has become a quasi-religious occasion, our de facto national holiday. It sees people united at services and events to remember fallen comrades or to pay respect to their relatives who died far away.
May we also remember the people waiting at home for sons, brothers, husbands and sweethearts to return, who sent parcels of knitted goods and Anzac biscuits to soldiers on the front, who wrote letters and words of encouragement. Who welcomed those who returned, only to discover that they had brought the horrors of war home with them.
May we remember too, the doctors, nurses and medics who were greeted with the first hand evidence of what humans will do to one another under the most terrible of conditions.
The poets and wordsmiths like CEW Bean, Keith Murdoch, Wilfred Owen, who used language convey the horrors of war and the creation of the Australian digger persona.
May we remember in order not to repeat the same mistakes.