And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda…

“It was Australia’s first campaign and was an enduring battle”

April 25th, as any Australian around the world will tell you, is ANZAC Day. The day we commemorate the first major military action of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps - the day they landed at Gallipoli in an attempt to put Turkey out of the First World War. And so it is that much of this country rises to dawn services at cenotaphs nationwide to tip their hats to men who served in many wars, were killed, maimed, captured or simply walked away at the end like my grandfather with his coat and rifle and carried on with life like the killing never was.

When I was younger I spent some time in the Royal Australian Navy and marched in several large Anzac Day parades. When I was younger than that, in primary school, I’d go to my friends house and we’d watch the marches on the television for most of the day before shooting each other senseless with stick machine guns and rock grenades.

Like any Australian my family and that of my partner’s family served in a number of wars. My grandfather served in World War One. Linden’s late father, John Langdon, a british soldior in World War Two, was a prisoner of war for three years in Italy and then Germany after being captured in Africa. Imagine being captured with only shorts and having to survive European winters in captivity. I’ve had relatives serve in both Korea and Vietnam as well.

I’m not being racist I hope in saying the following though…

The Turks are marching in ANZAC Day now and I guess that’s how it goes. I’m not sure my grandfather who was shot at by them and survived despite them would agree but its the way history has recorded it. It was Australia’s first campaign and was an enduring battle in which we, and the rest of the Allies of course, were the invaders of their homeland. So I can wear that.

Should the Japanese and German veterans march in ANZAC Day parades? NO. NEVER. I’m sorry but I hope as the last soldiors die off they don’t fill the ranks of that one occasion with the relatives of guards from Sandakan or nazis from Belsen. I’ve met old nazis who still say they love Hitler today!

I’m sorry but I don’t think its too much to ask that in parades commemorating the sacrifice of our young men in battles that their torturers and beheaders DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES get any sort of salute. No its not politically correct to say this anymore, and I’m not saying they’re bad people today either. I’m just saying ANZAC Day is about the soldiors. Our soldiors. Our history.

At 11am on 11 November we also have a minutes silence, less enforced nowdays, to commemorate our fallen. As any real Australian knows our real national anthem is Waltzing Matilda and not that shoddy imposter Advance Australia Fair.

At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent

And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (for the lack of an Eric Bogle original)

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