Do we deserve a day off on Anzac day?
THE LOADED DOG
Do we deserve a day off on Anzac Day? Photo: Getty Images
Eva Cox, research fellow at the University of Technology, Sydney
When I was a seven-year-old Austrian refugee from Hitler, I agreed with my schoolmates' claim that Nazis were evil, but when they added evil Germany's role in World War I, that included my Viennese grandfather. As I didn't believe he was evil, I started doubting blind patriotism. So, while it would be un-Australian to deny anyone a public holiday, I suggest we rename and recast the day claimed to celebrate our national ethic. Officially, this day is for all of us, but is it really? Belatedly, indigenous soldiers have been included, and some gallant Turks (who own the site), but the sad imperial defeat in Gallipoli is still very Anzac Anglo. We should recognise those who gave their lives willingly for their countries but embed this in celebrations that are inclusive, not mainly militaristic, blokey and sometimes jingoistic. A public holiday should celebrate Australia's commitment to peace and just wars.
Day of homage
Keith Windschuttle, editor of Quadrant magazine
Although we get the day off, Anzac Day is not your average public holiday. The dawn services and street parades remain our most moving national rituals. The vast majority of Australians still witness them, either in person or on television. Julia Gillard's speechwriters got it right for once: Anzac is Australia's most significant moment. Despite the sneers of university historians who now try to demystify and discredit the legend, it is the great definer and unifier of the Australian nation. On the day, my thoughts go to my late father, Eddie, who in 1942 farewelled his wife and new baby [me] and went to defend his country against the Japanese. He became an army signaller in New Guinea, always in harm's way, his life at risk for 12 months. He eventually came home, infested with malaria, but many did not return. Anzac Day is our homage to them all.
When you run a small business, especially in tourism, you have to work most days people consider holidays. I woke up to the dawn service on ABC radio and shed a little tear. I picked up the people for the tour, we stopped at Bangalow just in time for the Anzac parade and we reflected. We looked on as various groups laid their flowers and paid their respect. I shed another tear as I reflected on the futility of war. I will always respect our men and women in uniform and the supreme sacrifice many of them have made but I just wish our politicians afforded them the same respect. No booze, no two-up, no rowdy behaviour, just quiet reflection on a day of work.
Wendy Bithell, Brunswick Heads
We didn't celebrate Anzac Day. In past years when our kids were younger we did, especially with school involvement. I cannot support a wartime event as a national holiday.
Also, has anyone given any thought to those Australians who migrated here and do not have that connection? The use of grandchildren and great-grandchildren only adds weight to the support that it has become a ''club'' mentality. If you have a connection, you are in; otherwise, you are out. There are enough divisive issues in our country without adding to them.
Michael Voris, Winmalee
Surely in the democracy for which our servicemen and servicewomen fought and died, we can all remember in our own way and time. As a Christian, I remembered the sacrifice of our soldiers, sailors and airmen on Sunday at the memorial service at St Andrew's Cathedral and spent Anzac Day with family and friends as one of my statutory days off work. The meaning and purpose for most of our public holidays are lost or not respected by our people. Only a small percentage of Australians attend church to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas. An even smaller percentage of Australians attend church on the memorial day of Jesus's death or the Sunday on which he rose again from the dead.
If only those who attend Anzac Day memorials on Anzac Day can have the day off, then many immigrants from former enemy countries should not have a day off and only practising Christians should have Christmas and Easter off. By all means stop all public holidays and give us each the equivalent number of days off as additional annual leave to be taken as we choose. I will continue to take my time off during traditional public holiday times.
Paul Russell, Woollahra
I shudder to think where we would be without our Anzacs. A public holiday is a great way to continue to forge the Australian spirit. We have a reputation for the occasional holiday but those who fought - and continue to fight - for our way of life are best acknowledged and remembered with a day off.
My grandfathers fought for Australia with the sense of belonging to something worth fighting for. I can't say that having someone put their life on the line for me is worth it; a life is such a sacrifice. But to remember those who went before, and those who go today, yes, remember them with Anzac Day.
Therese Merten, Pearce, ACT
As I walked around my suburb about 6pm on Anzac Day, I couldn't help but wonder whether getting very drunk - most groups I saw in the streets were tanked - is a fitting way to reflect on the sacrifice of our Diggers at Gallipoli and other theatres of World War I. I saw a well-meaning post on Facebook that wished everyone a happy Anzac Day. I think that says it all; to many people Anzac Day is a day off and an excuse to drink too much. Let's find another way to celebrate this great day other than a holiday that only encourages silliness born of ignorance.
Eleanor Sheedy, Freshwater
I attended Anzac Day services to remember a man who I served with in Vietnam but never met. He was a young Irishman about my age who came to Australia and enlisted in the Australian Army and was killed within three weeks of arriving in Vietnam. I spent only four months in Vietnam but like all who went there I did what I was asked to do to the best of my ability.
At 66, I look back and reflect how lucky I am, having been happily married for 42 years with two wonderful daughters and two beautiful grandchildren. I have had interesting jobs, have always been paid well and I have had my problems like most people. However, poor George, who was killed at such a young age, never had the chance of the good fortune I have had.
For me, it's about remembering one man among the thousands who have died fighting wars for Australia. I remember him and count my blessings.
Vincent Restuccia, North Hobart
As a practising Catholic, I hold the Anzac Day holiday as close to my heart as Easter and Christmas. There is so much that is so solemn about Anzac Day that it is hard not to get emotional. It is a day to give thanks for the supreme sacrifices of our fallen soldiers.
As a parent, the Anzac story is a sound start to many lessons on being proud to be Australian. And as a mother, each year I look forward to the reading of Ataturk's moving speech during the dawn service at Gallipoli.
It absolutely enrages me that the shops cannot simply stay closed and that some people see the Anzac Day holiday as just another selfish day off.
Maria Costello, Peakhurst
Whether we deserve Anzac Day or not is moot. Those who fight and fought in the armed forces deserve recognition for being willing to fight for us and they deserve that we acknowledge the very real people making very real sacrifices on the orders of the governments we elect.
Anzac Day is about comprehending those sacrifices and considering long and hard whether the wars we send soldiers to fight are worth those sacrifices. The cost is not low and we should not consider it reasonable just because it is borne by others. Contrary to the opinion of Prime Minister Gillard, Federation was more important than the battle of Gallipoli because it ensures an Australian government elected by Australians decides whether our troops go to war.
James Pearce, Cuernavaca, Mexico (formerly from Drummoyne)
The culturally diverse country that Australia represents today has moved a long way from the ''king and country'' commitments of the past, including Gallipoli. While displaying exceptional levels of courage, our Anzac soldiers also represented the birth of an identity, which like all good identities has changed as it has matured.
It is no longer a day just to remember or honour the Anzac legacy, but rather a genuine opportunity to give thanks, not only for those who have served our country but for the very country we have become since the landing on Gallipoli. Whether we attend the dawn service, play two-up, surround ourselves with family and friends or simply take it easy, the process of enjoying the day and the nation we have become is now as important as honouring the Anzac legacy itself.
Stephen Morris, Sweden
Poll: Do we deserve a day off on Anzac Day?
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Poll closed 6 May, 2012
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