Tomorrow is April 25. Where I am from that means Anzac Day, which to many is when Australia “became a nation”. There is no doubt, at least in my mind, that the young Australians who died that day in 1915 should be remembered and honoured — as should all Australians who died in subsequent conflicts. Their individual and collective loss was tragic. But to pin Australia’s national identity on the military debacle that unfolded on the beaches of Gallipoli 102 years ago is misplaced and is an example of wrongheaded myth-making. Australian troops and their New Zealand counterparts were just part of a bigger British force that tried to invade what later became modern Turkey.
Australia was there because it was a nascent dominion within the British Empire. In many ways the two were inseparable at that time. Most Australians then regarded themselves as British and fought under British command as sons of the Empire.
I am not criticising that. It was a valid worldview at the time. My beef starts with the post-conflict spin that a shocked Australia embraced after the disaster. Being a way to justify such an immense loss, it leeched into our national psyche national psyche. And nowadays is as a strong as ever. It’s time we started discussing some home truths.