Here in Paradise, No Sunshine Today

Here in paradise, there’s no sunshine today, and that matches my mood.  For today is ANZAC Day, a special day for Australians and New Zealanders, and a special day for me too.

Very few of the original ANZACs remain with us now.  They were the young men – boys really – of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who marched off to defend ‘the motherland’ at the beginning of the First World War, only to be pinned down on the cliffs of Gallipoli, pawns in a game of politics being conducted by London.   It was a disastrous campaign, ending in massive casualties and ignominy, yet over the intervening decades, ANZAC has come to represent the maturation of the young nation of Australia (barely fifteen years old itself at the time), to the point that young people today see it as the first step in real independence from Great Briton.  And there’s something to be said for that.

For my father, and his generation, survivors of the Second World War, ANZAC Day was the day on which they honoured their fallen mates, allowed themselves to remember the things a man should never have to remember, and to celebrate their lucky escapes.

Even at 90, Papa would polish his medals, and attend the service at the war memorial.  But now, as for many of us, the Lest We Forget has become more about shame – the shame that old men are still sending young boys off to fight wars they barely understand.

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26 thoughts on “Here in Paradise, No Sunshine Today

  1. Very nice piece. People outside of Australia and New Zealand aren’t aware of the bravery of the diggers at Gallipoli. Unfortunately, like the vets of WWII here in the States, they are becoming a symbol of the past, a forgotten people only seen on days of remembrance.

    • Thanks Stephen for that. From afar it’s hard to know what’s really happening in other societies, which is one of at the marvellous things about this forum. The immediacy of the exchange of ideas is so helpful. Lest we forget all the boys, everywhere, who’ve been forgotten by their countries …

  2. Wait Wait! in response to SKC – some of us are aware of vets from all over in differing wars. Which is why I wrote about Anzac Day.

    Brilliant photo. And too true about old men sending young boys off to fight wars. All the more reason to remember and remind each other about the futility.

    • I think SKC was talking about ‘in general. There are always informed exceptions to ‘in general’, and indeed your post was a wonderful reflection of that. (But methinks you’ve picked up some Aussie connection in your travels?).
      Isn’t it a marvellous shot? The distress on his face, usually so uncomplicated and friendly, tells the story of his distress. He hated how ANZAC Day had become such a quasi-religious sanctification of war.

  3. I read the post, then looked up the article on wikipedia, and then re-read the post. Like many, I neither knew about this day, nor did I know about the circumstances surrounding it. Lovely post.

  4. Pingback: Anzac Day | roughseasinthemed

    • I can’t stop thinking about the kids who opt in thinking nothing cloud be worse than their present circumstances – or the depravity of the birthday lottery: boys I went to school with coming back with no legs, sometimes not at all.

  5. Although I’ve seen references to ANZAC day over the years, I had absolutely no idea aout the circumstances that lead to it. Thank you for sharing the background info I’d been lacking.
    One of the best things about blogging is the international nature of it, and the education that comes from reading other’s experiences and points of view.
    I really like your blog! thanks again for this great post!

    • Being part of an international network certainly is a highlight of this blogging experience for me too! I’m so glad you found my piece useful and that you’ve been enjoying my blog. I always pop in to yours too:)

  6. I had no idea either till I visited the spot itself and understood the horrors of that senseless encounter! Anzac Cove is now a serene and beautiful memorial. We found three lonely graves of lowly Indian military cooks and drivers in a corner of the cemetery.
    Wonderful photo of your dad! Makes me wonder how beautiful you must be with genes like that!

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