Friday, 25 April 2014
In a way, I am glad I’m a month behind on my photos. If I wrote what I’m about to write at the actual time, not even I would want to defend its apparent insensitivity. So, with a month having past, I think it’s safe for me to say that ANZAC Day is a very awkward occasion for me.
It is a sacred day in Australian culture in which we recognise and give thanks for the bravery and sacrifices of the men and women who have served in our armed forces. Everyone is encouraged to embrace it.
Thirty years ago, however, it was a very different story. I remember being told in no uncertain terms by pasty-faced bullies in the school yard that ANZAC Day is not for me. “My grandfather lost an arm fighting you Gooks in Korea,” they’d say, “How dare you tarnish their memory”, “You don’t have the right”.
Every year it’d be the same thing, with maybe a variation or two in which nationality they thought I was or which war they thought I was somehow responsible for. If I ever fought back, I’d usually be told to “Go back to where you came from.”
So you see, I’ve had it drilled into me that ANZAC Day is not for me; and that it’s not for me because I’m not Australian.
People who are younger than me often express surprise that such things could ever have been said to my face. Those who are older know better. That’s how they rolled back in the day, and I can still name every one of those people.
Of course, the rational part of me knows better. I have several friends who have served and continue to serve in the armed forces, for whom I have tremendous respect, and for whom I spare a thought in my own way.
The typical Aussie response to what I’ve just written is to build a bridge and get over it.
If only it were that easy to get over years of conditioning and abuse.