Anzac Day – an alternate view

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Ravages of war,
                                the tears of the fallen
                                     staining the soil.

Today in Australia it is Anzac Day – the day when those who served in World War 1 are honoured.  Ceremonies are held across the country in commemoration.  The main focus of attention is the terrible suffering experienced by Australian soldiers at Anzac Cove, Turkey.

I have been to Anzac Cove.   I have stood beneath the Lone Pine Tree and heard in my mind the haunted echoes of the anguished cries of the young men dying there on the beaches in 1915.  What many people here in Australia do not know is that the Aussie diggers at Anzac Cove did not actually defeat the Turks at Galliopli.   For years the two sides battled it out.  Both armies lived in appalling conditions and the casualties were high for both sides.   Eventually our troops were recalled when the government realised it was an unwinnable battle.   It took many months of petitioning the government before they accepted this was the case.  AnzacStory.htmhttp://www.anzacs.net/

I am a pacifist.   I have heard the stories of from WW1 and from many other wars.   I decided when I was in my teens that I do not condone war at all.  I have not come across any information since that has made me change my mind.

Strangely I learned a few years ago that my grandfather was also a pacifist.   More than that, he was a conscientious objector in WW1 and did not go to the war.    This fact was hidden from me by for many years.   ‘Grandpa was too young to fight in that war,’ my father said. There was also some improbable story about how my grandfather, a keen home gardener, had somehow kept the neighbourhood supplied in vegetables for the duration of the war.  It was only when my father neared the end of his life that he told his children what had actually happened.

The truth is my grandfather refused to fight.   He was a devout Christian with Socialist leanings.  Although it is now forgotten history, there was a huge anti-war movement in Australia during WW1.  At that time free thinkers wanted to establish Australia as an independent nation no longer ruled by Britain.  The war was seen as furthering the  cause of Empire.

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/worldwarone/what-happened-to-conscientious-objectors-during-ww1/5553002

My father was so ashamed of grandpa’s action he lied about it for most of his adult life.   It is only now that Australia is even beginning to recognise that conscientious objection to war is a valid stance.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-23/noone-conscientious-objectors-deserve-our-recognition/6415166

As the world teeters on the brink of another catastrophic global war I am inspired by the position my grandfather took.    There are alternatives to war.  Peacemaking, peace-building, mediation and non-violent conflict resolution are all alternatives that work.

Articles on non violent alternatives to war can be found on –

 http://hastingsnonviolence.blogspot.com.au/2013/08/alternatives-to-war.html  

http://www.vernalproject.org/papers/understanding/NonviolentAlternatives.html

http://www.alternet.org/world/alternatives-military-strikes-syria

I used a flat bed scanner to create the image on this post,  I then added the text in photoshop – image prompt –https://lensandpensbysally.wordpress.com/2017/04/24/sally-ds-mobile-photography-challenge-challengers-choice-portrait-of-orchids/

poetry prompt – https://colleenchesebro.com/2017/04/25/colleens-weekly-poetry-challenge-31-peace-tear/

36 thoughts on “Anzac Day – an alternate view

    1. Thanks Derrick. That’s what I think too. I wish I had been able to learn more about his actions and the repercussions but my father descended into illness very rapidly after his confession. The full story was never revealed.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Incredibly courageous of your grandfather. I think it took more courage to be a conscientious of objector than to join the mindless mob being sent off to fight. From my reading of Gammage’s book of interviews with WW1 soldiers, none of them would advise a young man to volunteer. I loathe Anzac Day rhetoric. I’ll be following your links.

    I like your new theme, and I’m glad I’ve finally caught up!

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    1. Thanks so much for reading this post and replying in a such a thoughtful way. I agree with you about Anzac Day. I am sickened by the glorification of war (although they say they aren’t doing that it comes across that way to me)

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  2. Your poem is true and poignant. Thank you for the information on Australia during WWI.
    I think your grandfather was very brave to stand up for his beliefs. My husband and I watched the movie Sunset Song over the weekend. The main character’s husband goes off to fight in WWI because he feels shamed into it. The minister in the church preaches against pacifists and calls them cowards and German sympathizers.

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    1. Many conscientious objectors were interned. I’m not sure why my grandfather wasn’t other than he had some land and did grow vegies . Maybe that was enough to claim he was a primary producer, I’m not sure.

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      1. Gosh, that’s a thought. I’ll see what I can find out. One thing my brother and I found in dad’s papers was an Australian Identity Card issued in my grandfather’s name. I’ve done some internet research but can’t find any information as to what this card was or why it was issued. The whole issue of conscientious objection to WW1 seems to be wiped from the history books. In the political climate here at present it would easy to have people turn on you and call you unpatriotic for even asking questions about this time! I’m not sure if they say a similar thing in America but over here questioning war leads to you being called ‘un-Australian’. At worst you are called an anarchist. Strange days indeed.

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      2. I think it varies here in the US, and depends on where you are and what communities you’re in. In our history, we’ve had lots of religious groups that were pacifists–Quakers, Mennonites, etc. And the U.S didn’t enter WWI till 1917, so it’s a bit different. My grandfather, a Russian Jew, immigrated to the US just before that time, and my mom said he was drafted. But I think immigrants were given citizenship if they enlisted, and I found his naturalization papers on Ancestry.com that was signed by a military officer.
        I’ve never done research on Australian records, but if a government office issued waivers for farmers, there are probably records.

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      3. That’s fascinating. My earlier ancestors were Quakers but my grandfather had left that faith and was an Anglican (I think they are called Episcopalian in the US). Another mystery about him I’ll never know the answer too. History does leave us with a some unanswered questions sometimes. What a great document to find on Ancestry.com.

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      4. Thanks for that. I think that department would be about the resettlement of returned soldiers onto farms. It was a big movement after WW2.
        You have spurred me to a bit more internet research. There was a big movement here to not join WW1 – it’s forgotten now. https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/when-australia-voted-no-war-1916-17-conscription-referenda
        These days the militarist agenda is very strong. Thinking and reading about this stuff always makes me feel I should do some serious research and writing on the subject. Perhaps I will at some stage in the future.

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    1. I wish I knew more of his story. My grandfather died when I was young and my father only opened up at the very end of his life. The full story died with him.

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  3. Suzanne, your address is still coming up as your old blog on my site, but also here if i push your gravatar image. I managed to change mine by going to http://en.gravatar.com. I had to delete my old site and add the new one. it doesn’t touch the actual website, just the link on your gravatar image. so when you go to my site, the right name should come up. xx let me know how you go.

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    1. Thanks very much for that information. I am currently going slightly insane on WordPress trying to figure out how to make the new blog work properly.

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