Aussie legend; it’s the “spirit” of the Anzacs that we now hold to be as essential to who we are as the Americans do their War of Independence and the French do Bastille.
More young Australians travel to Gallipoli every year than ever before, and the governments spend hundreds of millions on war memorials and commemorations.
Yet the single most enduring memorial to the Anzacs is to remember why, and for whom, they went to war in the first place: for King and country. Like it or not, the “spirit” of the Anzacs is, was, and always will be their unflinching loyalty to the Crown.
It was belief in the idea and values of the British Empire that led young kids to run away from their farms and young men to abandon their wives and head off to fight and die in bloody battle.
Obviously, many returned from the horrors of both world wars disillusioned with those same values – many came home as communists, socialists, pacifists, republicans and so on – but by far the majority who survived retained their loyalty to their country, including its monarch, and believed the ideal had been worth the sacrifice.
It is a grotesque dishonesty to pretend that the “spirit” of the Anzacs was anything other than monarchist at heart. Today, the monarch plays a purely symbolic role in our modern lives, yet is an important ceremonial link to what made us who we are.
To replace that system with something imperfect or illdefined is no different to papering over an old oil painting for the sake of it.
Or tipping a bucket of cold water over a smoking ceremony.