ANZAC Day: a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders "who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations" and "the contribution and suffering of all those who have served". - Wikipedia
I still have mixed feelings about ANZAC day. I’ve always felt yuck about war, and wondered why those in power can’t seem to resolve conflict peacefully instead of resorting to an action that means thousands of innocent lives are lost.
Then again, I’ve never been in a position of power that’s required navigation of such delicate matters and I understand the importance of respecting the bravery of those who had no choice but to serve their country. Both of my grandfathers fought in the second World War, so ANZAC Day is something my family has always marked. My father, making speeches at local services, and my brother marching as a cadet.
With a background in education, I feel it’s important to teach my son about significant days. As a mother, I’m careful not to glorify war, so instead, I commemorate ANZAC Day with age appropriate activities.
This year I asked my son the night before what he knew about ANZAC Day. They’d read a book in class called Anzac Ted, so we viewed a read aloud on YouTube. In the morning we arose early to watch the Dawn Service in Melbourne and around Australia presented by the ABC News. I was pleased to see a greater acknowledgement of Indigenous soldiers, previously excluded from recognition. I also noticed the voices of women were more present than in previous years… female soldiers, mothers and grandmothers. There was also discussion of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the need to appropriately support returned soldiers. War affects everyone, so I feel it’s important to see the views from as many people as possible.
Sadly, the coverage cut to news of a potential attack in Gallipoli that had been prevented by police. Much weight was given to the evidence that it was Islamic State who was planning this attack. Obviously it’s important to report the news, although I couldn’t help but feel a sense of fear mongering going on, a reminder of the importance of war against our “enemies”. There has been pushback against days like ANZAC and Remembrance Day as many believe it’s simply a justification for the lost lives in the name of the Empire and Manhood. I hope that the extensive coverage of the planned attack in Gallipoli isn’t simply a way of asserting notions of “us against them”, subtly reminding people that we are still at risk in order to justify war. I believe much damage is done here, particularly for the Muslim community, when the majority of representations we see are of terrorists. The vast majority of the Muslim community I know are peaceful, welcoming and diligent and I wish there were more images like that in our media.
I also wish Australia would treat the suffering and significant events of other peoples and countries with as much respect as it gives to the soldiers who’ve fought for us. It’s clear to me that the first war in Australia (that of colonisation) is given far less attention than our national days of remembrance, and I hope that this changes as quickly as possible.
With such a heavy morning, we spent the rest of it doing more frivolous activities, colouring in poppies, a symbol of war remembrance and making ANZAC cookies (recipe below).
This afternoon we might revisit the story of ANZAC Ted with some historical literacy activities. Education begins at home and I’m aware that parents are a child’s earliest teacher, so I’m committed to marking this day with reverence and understanding, since I know my child is watching.
Lest we forget (any of it).
ANZAC biscuits were sent in food parcels to Australian and New Zealand troops in Europe during World War I. The recipe was created and named for the soldiers of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).
1 cup white spelt flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup dessicated or shredded coconut
3/4 cup coconut sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup golden syrup
125g (4 oz) unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate)
2 tablespoons boiling water
Preheat oven to 180c (350f). Line three baking trays with baking paper.
Sift flour into a bowl. Add oats, coconut, coconut sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre.
Pour golden syrup and butter into a small saucepan and stir over low heat until butter has melted completely.
Dissolve the bicarbonate of soda in boiling water and add to the butter mixture. It will foam a little, this is normal, stir to combine.
Pour the wet ingredients into the well of the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
Using tablespoons, drop the mixture onto the sheets of baking paper with enough room between them to spread.
Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden (watch them, they cook quickly). Allow to cool on trays for a few minutes so they don’t break when transferring to wire racks.
Enjoy warm with a cup of tea.
Store any extras in an airtight container for as long as two weeks.