Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy ANZAC Day

Bringing together the dual concepts of wartime and old age, ANZAC Day is possibly the most depressing holiday on the Australian calendar.

Both my grandfathers served in WWII. The one I knew - a slightly racist chainsmoker and occasional shoplifter - was in the navy. He was awesome, though he was only around until I was about 12.

Sometimes I wish he'd been alive when I was old enough to better appreciate the things he'd been involved in, though realistically I probably would have felt too awkward to ask anything searching, and I doubt he'd have discussed it with me in any great detail. Besides the most basic of information - the names of the ships he was on, the number of kamikaze attacks he'd survived - everything about his wartime experiences I've only heard second hand.

He was so proud of what he'd achieved during that war, even though it made him wake up screaming every night for the first years of his marriage to my grandmother.

The big ideas of nationhood these days evoke seem so at odds to the experiences of those caught up in the events being commemorated; though, of course, it would be impossible for me to fully concieve of what those experiences were.

I'm not sure if this day is a patriotic celebration, a memorial, a tradition reduced to a gesture, or what it's meant to be, all I know is there'll be a lot of drunk diggers playing 2up tonight.

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