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Torn by Anzac Day – by Darin Sullivan

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Torn by Anzac Day 

I’m always a little torn about how I feel about Anzac Day. Both my Grandfathers served in the armed forces. One in the air force, the other one served in the army, fighting in Singapore and ending up a prisoner of war in Changi. My father served as a medic in the Army Reserve, and my father-in law still has ties to his time in National Service.

My long career in Fire and Rescue NSW is within a para-military organisation, with rank and naval/military foundations and traditions. But is Anzac Day a festival of nationalistic militarism?

Does it instil into new generations a sense of solidarity with the governments and military brass who send people off to fight in war?

We are told that Anzac Day is about remembering the horror of war. And yet the people and organisations who preside over Anzac Day are the same ones who are waging an unprovoked war of aggression in countries like Iraq. In reality, these wars form part of many Australian military adventures. All of which have been bloody, aggressive, and designed only to serve the rich in recent times. The rich can’t do the fighting themselves. If you remember footage of John Howard walking around Canberra with an entourage in his Aussie team tracksuit, or Kerry Packer out for a jog with his personal paramedic team in tow, you’ll know what I mean.

But then I can see that WWI and WWII saw greater threats to humanity, and indeed Australia, than what modern wars ever have. I accept that we should honour the working class men and women who fought for us and our futures.

I think the real problem I have with Anzac Day in its current form is the way the ruling class take it over and use it to justify past decisions, and use the bravery and courage of the working class for their own purposes.

Yep, I’m torn, and to see my Grandfather essentially left to go mad from the experiences he went through in Changi by the Government that sent him there, is a classic example of where I’m at. Today I remember both my Grandfathers, and I respect the sacrifices and truths of war. However I cannot respect those that continue to use the courage and sacrifice of them and their Comrades to suggest that we should celebrate war and aggression.

I know what it’s like to risk your life with those I consider Comrades by my side, and we must fully respect the experiences and risks that our fellow Australians have taken for what they saw as the right reasons – and I do.

On that basis, I’ll continue to respect Anzac Day for what it is to us, but we must continue to question whether the men and women we keep sending overseas to risk their lives should be sent at all. Yes they will fight, and they will die, but we should remember that we allow it to happen. So make sure it’s worth it.

Lest we forget.

About Darin Sullivan (1968 Articles)
President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and a professional firefighter with more than 25 years’ experience. Father of two daughters, he lives and works on the NSW South Coast, Australia. He is a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around him. He is a Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and works with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist he has long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. Now a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and has decades of experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. He is passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. Darin is also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
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