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"Remembering with advantages”: the memory of the Great War in Australia
journal contributionposted on 01.01.2015, 00:00 authored by Carolyn HolbrookCarolyn Holbrook
Australian memory of the Great War has always been expressed most enthusiastically in the rituals of Anzac Day: an occasion that recognises the anniversary of the Australians’ first battle of the war in Turkey on 25 April 1915. In the decades after 1914–1918, the devastating effects of the war were assuaged in part by the pride that Australians felt in the fighting reputation of their soldiers. By the 1960s the rituals of Anzac were in noticeable decline. Young Australians were hostile to the values of the Great War generation and believed that the commemorative practices of Anzac Day glorified war. Despite the widespread belief that Anzac Day would die with the last of the old veterans, it has staged a remarkable resurgence. This can be explained by the remaking of the Anzac legend, from a myth anchored in British race patriotism and martial nationalism to one that speaks in the modern idiom of trauma, suffering and empathy. What remains of the original Anzac legend is the belief commonly held by contemporary Australians that their national consciousness was born at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.