Monday 21 April 2008

ANZAC Day should be celebrated at home says VU researcher

Australia should begin to deflect its attention away from the ANZAC Day services in Turkey, and focus instead on our home-grown services, according to Victoria University’s Associate Professor Anne-Marie Hede.

She said: “This view is probably not a popular one. After years of ANZAC myth-making, justifiably based around the Turkish landscape, it might seem unpatriotic. Such a suggestion might even be considered blasphemous – given that the ANZAC legend has developed quasi-religious overtones.”

“Year after year memorable, packed services are staged around Australia on Anzac Day – and Anzac Day services at home offer more Australians the opportunity to embrace this part of Australia’s heritage.”

“There are many reasons to support this argument. Staging an event like the Anzac Day service on the Gallipoli Peninsula is becoming unsustainable.”

“The logistics are challenging. Anzac Cove, where Australia’s service is held, is not easily accessed, even at the best of times. When you consider the need to transport all the equipment associated with a modern-day event, such as the big screens, the seating, the lighting, all the port-a-loos, the programs – and everything else that goes with it, the issue of accessibility becomes even more acute.”

“In 2005 about 80 buses carted an estimated 20,000 attendees around the Peninsula to the service site. Add to this number, all the representatives of the media.”

Hede questions the impacts this event has on this Gallipoli’s heritage landscape.

She said: “When the roads were widened in 2005 making way for the parking bays for all the buses, expert archaeologists voiced their concerns that the integrity of the heritage landscape was compromised. While others may disagree with the archaeologists, there is no doubt that the landscape was permanently changed.”

“Visitors have been known to pick up fragments of shrapnel from the Peninsula – small souvenirs that make their visit tangible – but over time, the removal of these souvenirs has an impact on the authenticity of the site.”

“If it continues on its current trajectory, the 100th anniversary of the landing of the ANZACs on the Gallipoli Peninsula will be a mammoth event – with many Australians saying they want to be on the Peninsula for 2015 service.”

“The vision of the 2015 ANZAC service on the Gallipoli Peninsula is something Australians should be thinking about. We should begin to seriously consider retreating from holding the commemorate services there. There’s nothing wrong with retreating – after all the ANZACs did.”

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