Australia celebrates ANZAC day every year on April 25th. This is to commemorate the Gallipoli dawn landing where Australian and New Zealand soldiers arrived on the beach at Gallipoli, Turkey in 1915. Those who survived being shot at from the cliffs by the Turks dug in for over 8 months of daily skirmishes.
Australia must be one of the least warlike nations on earth (despite our previous PM's love fest with George Bush), yet this day is celebrated because it is written in our history as the time Australia became a nation in her own right. From our British Empire convict beginnings, then forming the Federation of States in 1901, it was through this shedding of blood of young men, the stories from the battlefields, that it is felt Australia came of age. No longer a baby sucking the British bottle, she had grown into an ungainly child. Sadly in such a young nation, over 8,000 young men died, some as yound as 14, who had foolishly signed up 'to see the world.'
It was on the battlefields of WW1 that so many aspects of the Australian Identity were formed - larrakins, practical jokers, bronzed Aussies, courageous, irreligious...and many more blokey descriptions. A very blokey country. I'm just a sheila! Ha! Ha! We're still in the adolescent phase.
But the point of my history lesson is that I was on the streets in Brisbane on Anzac Day. I saw the modern diggers marching, the display of army vehicles, the proud regimental displays, and it gets me every time - in such a peaceful nation it looks an anacronyism to see this display on our fun-filled streets. I could see the surprise on the tourists' faces, wondering what was going on, whether they were in the right country. It got me thinking about the fear in people's hearts when they see a foreign power driving its tanks through their streets.
I've recently re-read 'Pied Piper' by Nevil Shute. A great classic which was released during WW2. Shows the war from the elderly and child perspective. Written in such spare prose as the proper English gentleman led a bunch of children across recently-invaded France. Loved it all over again.
So many great books...