There were 50,000 people at the ANZAC Day March in Melbourne today. I checked that when I first made a post on ANZAC Day in 2006 there were 30,000 in attendance. ANZAC Day is an occasion that has proven resilient even as we move further away from the event in time. For me its a day when I think of my dad – he died 38 years ago and was a long-serving World War II veteran. He always celebrated ANZAC Day when we lived in Sydney as an occasion where he met up with old service friends. He thought the main message of this day was the terrible nature of war. He had no romantic illusions about war and lived the effects of his war time experience for the rest of his life.
The popularity of ANZAC Day, particularly among the young, is worth comment. It could be that the family ties are crucial in this but I suspect that in a materialistic, secular society it is also related to a deeply felt search for meaning and significance. Even if the focus is not entirely accurate the ethic of “dying for one’s country” as the ultimate self-sacrifice is a virtuous ideal. We are short of even remotely comparable ideals these days.