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Gallipoli discourses

April 25, 2011

Anzac Day is a day of international connections…

Hilary Clinton, in her capacity as US Secretary of State, is quoted as saying that “Anzac Day is a day of respect and remembrance, a day to mark a defining event for Australia and New Zealand – Gallipoli – where courage and loyalty demonstrated the intrepid character of two young nations, whose heroes now rest in peace in the soil of a friendly country.” (Ref: Clinton salutes ‘intrepid’ Anzacs).  I like this word ‘intrepid’ being used about my ‘countrymen’… it’s right up there with “courage and loyalty”!  These are positive qualities in this nation…

…but it does raise the quesiton of language…

Anzac Day is also a day captured by heroic, communally spirited language…

The discourse that surrounds Anzac Day is really interesting.  Any piece of writing would probably capture the sentiment attached to this public memory, but I do find the articles in the newspaper fascinating! (Check out: Quiet Hero 1 and it’s second part, Quiet Hero 2 as an example). 

Words that stick out of this article as thematic? young… Kiwi… wounded… battle… extraordinary… “early morning sun”… “allied ships come under brutal fire”… gone… few… “fighting for their lives”… “heroic decision”… “swimming away to a lonely death”… sacrifice… courage….  All these words and others seem to capture the spirit of Anzac day that we choose to remember each year.  The story is a poignant and a personal one; a sad story that inspires faith in one’s fellow man – especially if he’s a Kiwi like us!

I hope I don’t sound too critical of a true story of sacrifice – what interests me is simply our fascination with – and need for? – such stories… ritually… on ANZAC Day…

Indubitably ANZAC Day provides us with a strong community tie. 

How does this same language get used in literature that treats massive violent conflict (as Historic and realist or as fantastic fiction!!!) and to what cultural end???

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