Sunday, April 26, 2009

Lest we forget

While we were watching the Dawn service from Gaollopli a few things struck me. The first was the difference between the Kiwi's and Aussies who attend the service, as the camera panned across the crowd the Australian's were quite easy to pick, and perhaps flowing from that I wondered about the difference in how the ANZAC legacy is seen in New Zealand and Australia. I think if I recall correctly the message when Howard spoke was about patriotism and nationalism while yesterday the theme was more around the links forged between the Turks, Kiwi's and Australians.

I've been working my way through Top Price, which is a collection of articles written by the late Matt Price (a journalist from the The Australian, who passed away in 2007). One of the pieces was a included a story about General Gerard Muirhead-Gould, who ordered that Japanese be creamated with full military honours, and in explaining why he came up with the following:

I have been criticized for having accorded these men military honours at their cremation, such honours as we hope may be accorded to our own comrades who have died in enemy hands; but, I ask you, should we not accord full honours to such brave men as these? It must take courage of the very highest order to go out in a thing like that steel coffin. . . . Theirs was a courage which is not the property or the tradition or the heritage of any one nation. It is the courage shared by the brave men of our own countries as well as of the enemy and, however horrible war and its results may be, it is courage which is recognized and universally admired. These men were patriots of the highest order. How many of us are really prepared to make one thousandth of the sacrifices that these men made?
 This afternoon I enjoyed reading this piece in which Alexander McCall-Smith writes about his characters and books, and readers reactions to the characters lives.

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