The USS Quad Damage

Let's we forget

OK, our TVs spew propaganda (no really, it's true). Their storytelling bullshit laden news has little bearing on reality, other than aligning the worldviews of the common-folk. If you've been close to a couple of newsworthy incidents, you know that what the news reports is a 5 second snippet, 4 of which are spent delivering a taxonomy with which to discuss the issue over the water cooler the next day. The "opinions" they offer seem benign enough, if you believe the other 1 second, but they tend to be heavily charged with a polarised opinions. Propaganda, not truth.

So when shit goes down at Mac. Fields (so named because there's a McDonalds at Glenquarie, which is the default hang-out spot for all the residents), the news reports just plain old seem insulting (because I live at Maccas' Fields). If you watch the news after using the internets (or even switching to the ABC, SBS, or triple J once in a while) you'll begin to notice the charged vocabulary in the news. Eventually, you start to pick out the truths behind their wordplay, and the contrast is often deliciously ironic.

This post is about our true blue dinky di diggers (cobber), the men of invincible culinary army(?) skill, the Anzacs (unless you count the biscuits, in which case culinary still applies). I'd like to state at the outset that this isn't about finger pointing. I didn't really do that well at history to be able to hold my own. This is more about something that we tend to forget, which is contrary to the spirit of Anzac day, a day of rememberance. I've never quite known what "lest we forget" means. I always treated it as a catch-phrase for Anzac day. If you think about it, we celebrate those who went to war, but for what reason? Lest we forget their sacrifice? One of the grabs in the news was a quote "We will remember them. Lest we forget". That doesn't mean anything, although it does imply that it is them that we are remembering!

But why? What happens if we forget them? The implication seems to be that the Anzacs and their great sacrifices are then not honoured. I think there's much more at stake here than honour, however, and almost all of it was in the news story. I know I said before that I wasn't very good at history, but I do remember hearing that the Queen ordered the soldiers into battle specifically as a diversion: they were meant to be killed, so that the more important British soldiers wouldn't be. Aren't we also supposed to remember that, or should our memory be more selective? Remember their sacrifice, but not their circumstances.

I say this because, according to the news report, Prince Charles was at the ceremony. I don't think he was apologising for his mumsy, and I don't think any of the royal family are saying that they regret their decision to send those soldiers to their deaths. It's an interesting play on words, though, right? "We sent you to your deaths" becomes "you sacrificed yourselves for the Commonwealth" becomes "you sacrificed yourselves for Australia". Let's remember that, instead. The news report shows him shedding a fake tear, and we're all supposed to let it go.

The story then moved on (either that or I changed the channel, but whatever) to how some soldier was treated like shit because he fought in Vietnam. Let's try that again: because he fought in a war that had even less justification than the other two. We don't blame the soldiers nowadays (unlike those dirty stinkin' hippies), because they don't have a choice in the matter. We blame the PM, except he has no accountability, and we keep voting for him because he keeps interest rates low, except he doesn't... clever. Lest we forget.

Then the news story moves on to the Iraq war, a war that's perhaps the least justified one that we've been a part of, on Anzac day. Just being reminded of that war on this day ought to give everyone a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Why are we sacrificing more of our people? Is it so that it's harder to forget their sacrifice, or are they having a 90 year recruitment drive? Anyway, the news story wasn't done here. The reporter wanted to rub salt in the wounds: Our soldiers celebrated this day with the coalition, including none other than the Japanese. "Allies in WWI, Enemies in WWII, standing shoulder to shoulder once again", the voice track proudly proclaimed. What is this guy saying? That we have arbitrary foes? What the hell are the Japs and our guys talking about? "I come from a long line of soldiers", "Really, me too. Just think, my dad could've been torturing your dad.", "We have so much in common, let's be friends."

The story ends, and my dad starts. He never really stops, but I tune in between him and the TV. He says he has a friend at work who lives near one of the ceremonies. He says he hates Anzac day, because the aussies come, drinking and cavorting all night. They dance on the graves of their forefathers, and leave the place in a mess the next day. Lest we forget the society these great Anzacs died protecting. Our current leadership, our current constituents, and the proud Commonwealth.

Lest we forget.