Saturday, 21 April 2012

A Day to Remember

Yesterday afternoon I went along to the launch of Jackie French's new book about Anzac Day: A Day to Remember.

I had been quite fortuitous to have noticed the book and decided to borrow it straight away, since our teacher-librarian was just on her way to book herself in to go to the launch and invited me to join her if I liked.
I jumped at the chance to learn first hand about this book that looks like it will effectively support what I am trying to achieve through our Anzac mini-unit, and I am glad I did.
After acting like groupies and having our photos taken and books signed by both the author, Jackie French, and the illustrator, Mark Wilson, we were given the opportunity to hear from a gentlemen, now in his late eighties, who had served in World War II.
His story was so interesting that we insisted he tell us the rest of the story over a cup of coffee (which unfortunately for him, went cold because he was so busy answering all of our questions).
I am grateful for the opportunity to hear the story and to learn more about the stories behind Jackie French's new book since it will enrich the way that I am able to present ideas about Anzac Day for my class.
Jackie's new book is a history of Anzac Day itself, and not simply restricted to the events of 25th April, 1915 at Gallipoli.
This matches perfectly with what we are doing, which is looking at the story over time of our local memorial and its changing meaning and symbolism for people.
I remember as a child the concerns that Anzac Day was becoming redundant as less and less diggers were marching each year as they became more frail or passed away.
I know that my own attitude to Anzac Day has changed. I sometimes see it as a celebration of war, encouraging people to see violence and fighting as a way forward and this goes against the grain of my own beliefs. I respect that those who do serve their country do it with the best of intentions and I am grateful for their courage and bravery, but I am also angered by the way that young boys (and many of them were) were encouraged into a situation which would have been so horrible it can't be imagined, and they had no control over it.
I hope that by commemorating Anzac Day, we will look back at the atrocities of war and search for better ways of solving our problems now and in the future.
I think it is great that we have students in our schools from countries all over the world, who at one time would have been considered enemies just because of their heritage and now we can meet them as people and appreciate that we have more in common than not, and that peace and harmony are something worth striving for.
I'm just still not sure that guns and force are the best way to achieve this peace. Our students of today may find a new way to solve the problems of the future if they never forget the pain of the past.

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