As trans-Tasman borders re-open and in the wake of the Christchurch attacks, Anzac Day gains new meaning and presents new challenges – just as it has always done.
Australian War Memorial
Amid the trauma and boredom of war, soldiers turned to reading — often magazines they wrote themselves.
Crowds ahead of the dawn service at Canberra’s National War Memorial in 2018. Attendance at the service fell from 120,000 in 2015 to 35,000 in 2019.
The prime minister calls it “our most sacred day”, but numbers at Anzac Day dawn services fell by 70% from 2015-2019.
Beautifully directed, powerfully acted, Peter Weir’s Gallipoli still captures the devastating emotional toll of war, 40 years after it first premiered.
Australian soldiers in the trenches at Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey in 1915.
State Library of Victoria/Wikimedia Commons
When the honour of Australia’s revered soldiers is questioned, so, too, is the national self-image. But war is an ugly business, and we pay a price for tethering it so tightly to our identity.
As Spanish flu ravaged the world in 1919, Australians found novel ways to commemorate Anzac Day, and they will do so again this year.
A British Pattern 1907 bayonet with leather scabbard.
There is no weapon more visceral than the bayonet. It encourages an intimate form of killing, and during WW1, Australia troops plunged, parried and stabbed with great vigour.
Turkish soldiers in a trench at Gallipoli. The way Turkish youth commemorate the battle tells us much about the country’s politics.
Ausstralian Dept of Veterans Affairs
At Gallipoli this Anzac Day, thousands of Turkish youth will re-enact a march that stopped the Anzac advance in 1915. The march has taken on new significance in Turkey since an attempted coup in 2016.
British soldiers on the frontline.
As tens of thousands of injured soldiers filled the UK’s overwhelmed hospitals, the scale of World War I became all too apparent.
Sport is here for the moment and gone in a few seconds, minutes, hours or days.
Australians boast of our warrior participation in every major war since 1899, and in every modern Olympiad since 1896.
Australians are deeply attached to the cluster of beliefs and traditions we call the ‘Anzac legend’.
In 1960, historian Ken Inglis wondered if Anzac functioned as a secular religion in Australian society. In 2017, we can confidently answer: yes, it does.
The Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day, is marked by Chinese people by going to the cemetery to clean up tombs, bring flowers, and make offerings to their ancestors.
Like Australia, China traditionally commemorates those who served in war in April each year, and increasingly they do it via social media.
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been a central figure in linking the Gallipoli campaign with Islamic conceptualisations of the Turkish nation.
The Gallipoli campaign has, in recent years, increasingly become part of the culture wars in Turkey associated with the rise of political Islam.
The tragedy that unfolded 20 years ago added another layer of horror to a site already scarred by atrocity.
The 20th anniversary of the massacre at Port Arthur again raises pressing questions about ways of remembering the tragedy.
The Cu Chi tunnels may be the most popular of the ‘war tourism’ attractions in Vietnam.
Might the rise of heritage tourism and the increasing ease of international travel lead to more of Australia’s military experiences overseas being better understood?
Remembering the fallen.
Gallipoli has become an enduring symbol of World War I’s futile carnage. But the campaign did have a purpose.
For those who were there one hundred years ago, Gallipoli was not the stuff of legend that it later became, but a site of regret and despair.
A young Henry Moseley in the lab.
Henry Moseley, one of the outstanding young scientists of his generation, was shot and killed in the trenches of Gallipoli. But his death helped change the way that scientists are used in wartime.
The Lost Battalion, 2015. Acrylic, soil, charcoal and shellac on paper. Lev Vykopal.
Fremantle Arts Centre
Tackling Gallipoli is an onerous challenge: it carries baggage that must be accommodated or unpacked with extreme care. Western Australian artist Lev Vykopal’s two exhibitions offer a mix of reverence, analysis, critique and poetry.
Australian newspaper photographers have always been forbidden to show military failure or fragility.
AAP Image/Dave Hunt
Although more than 100,000 Australians have lost their lives as a result of war service, photographs of our dead have never been published in newspapers.Perhaps we should reconsider this.