"If I wanted to throw away money," he seemed to say.
Such thoughts were in mind in the lead up to Anzac day, the one day of the year. It is not I look forward to. Sure I love a footy match as much as any, but I feel uncomfortable with all that unquestioned acceptance of authority.
My unease about the way we mark war was there again recently during my first ever trip to Canberra. A friend works for the War Memorial; its education program is experienced by more school children than any other cultural institution in Australia. Canberra seems built for grand parades, though its no Champs Elysees. The money expended on memorials, sculptures and buildings marking our war history...it's all just a bit over the top.
Anyway, my thoughts on why I don't get Anzac day crystallised yesterday listening to this lecture by historian Marilyn Lake. Commemorations like Anzac day are not only acts of remembrance, but of forgetting, also, a highly selective version of history, one that smoothes over difficult passages, the conflicts that go on in the making of history. Anzac day itself has a particular history, one not unconnected with the political influence. Howard was particularly adept at wrapping himself in the flag. It is the selective remembering of war and what war is that makes Anzac day one that I find very hard to love indeed.