What We Forget

Last ANZAC Day I wrote about my work with The Australians At War Film Archive. I recalled the story of a digger on the Kokoda Track who didn’t feel like much of a hero. His story is one journalist’s don’t really recall when they report ANZAC Day.

Australian based journalist for the BBC Sharon Mascall Dare has recognized this and in a recent article in online newspaper InDaily said: “We don’t often hear about the devastating impact that war can have on people.”

How true, that’s because it is not in the ‘spirit of ANZAC’.

As journalists we have an obligation to tell the whole story and not just fragments of legend. Yet when it comes to ANZAC Day we use words like “sacrifice, honour, hero” without any real context. All these words are loaded with multiple meanings, an easy way to cover the complexity of war without really giving anything away.

War is complex and our history in them since World War 1 doesn’t fit in to a couple of columns or news bites. Yet somehow we have settled for reporting growing crowds remembering at dawn services rather than how many lives have been lost and the families who have suffered.

Then there are the Australians in our community who have escaped war, how does ANZAC Day impact on them?

When we talk about quality journalism we are striving for excellence in reporting and the telling of stories that are in the public’s interest. Australians participation in war both past and present is a discourse we need to have.

Since the bombing of Darwin in World War 2 we have not had a direct attack on our soil. So why do we support other people’s wars? Are we the modern day peacekeepers in the world’s police force?

Admirable in deed but from the stories I have heard even peacekeeping comes with its own trauma.

Sadly, when we are teaching future generations about ANZAC Day they won’t be hearing about that. And I am sure we won’t be using words like “trauma, PTSD or victim.”

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