Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Thoughts about ANZAC Day

The past week has just been insane so I didn't post this on the day, but in the spirit of Amy's honest blogging I wanted to write a little about my ANZAC Day thoughts even though the 25th April has gone.

That's DH's grandad in the picture. He was a rifleman in WWI. He and his brother came back. He was fine but his brother suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for the rest of his life and spent some time in Carrington Hospital.

My grandfathers were considered "vital to the war effort" because they were farmers and therefore didn't go to war. My great-uncle did and was a POW who had to work on the Burma Railway. Regrettably, his experience coloured my grandparent's views of Japanese people to this day.

I struggle with ANZAC Day because I'm of two minds about it. On one hand I feel a great thankfulness for people who were willing to fight for the freedom and peace we know today in this country. I don't wish to belittle the efforts made by those who died. Many who went did so because of their strong belief in the "rightness" of their calling. They shouldn't be forgotten, and I believe that's what ANZAC Day is about. That and Never Again.

On the other hand, I know that if war should occur again I would feel uncomfortable with the idea of going to fight because of my personal beliefs. I've actually known some men who were willing to be despised and rejected by society because they stood up for those same beliefs. They have no memorial day and their sacrifice is more poignant to me because it isn't recognised by most. True, those in NZ didn't die (AFAIK) because they were conscientious objectors. (Those in Germany were sent to Dachau and most didn't survive). They suffered a loss of freedom, loss of community status and some I know suffered physically (healthwise) and mentally.

I think it is part of becoming an adult that one can have this friction of feelings about some things. When you're a child, things tend to be black and white. As a teenager, you feel things passionately and can argue either side with conviction. As an adult, the areas of "grey" become evident to you.


  1. thought provoking post Penny and I was sitting here nodding and ahhing. We don't hear a lot about the mental health of soldiers and what happened to them when they returned. My grandad was a POW too and has the same view of japanese people as well.

  2. i appreciate your honesty and learning about ANZAC day, penny.

  3. My mother once mentioned that my great uncle used to wake up screaming after he returned from the war. I don't know that he talked about it much though. I have similar feelings about war to you (especially now I have two boys!!) but having walked through those war cemeteries in Europe I think remembering the horror and the sacrifice involved in warfare is important (so hopefully we can learn better ways of dealing with problems).

  4. Yes DH and I talk about it. He says he would have been a conscientious objector too but when discussing this with our parents we got a different perspective. In those days life was different and it seems a sense of duty/service was much stronger in young men than it is now. Also these days we're simply raised different. It's really interesting .debste