Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Reassessing Australia's role in the Great War

Yesterday marked the 91st anniversary of the commencement of the Battle of Gallipoli. Once again Australians and New Zealanders traveled by the thousands to Turkey's Aegean coast to participate in a dawn ceremony at the battle site. While only a part of the Allied force, The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) stood in the forefront. In a little over six months of fighting against the Turks, ANZAC lost 10,000 troops.

ANZAC Day, April 25, has become the most important national holiday in both Australia and New Zealand. Paul Kelly used the occassion to note the change in attitude toward the former's assessement of it role in World War I. Throughout the 20th century, ultranationalists held considerable sway promoting the view that the country's participation in the Great War was a great mistake. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Kelly and others argue that Australia's participation in the proved necessary. They argue that sitting out the war would have hampered the country's development and crippled its national spirit. Kelly also writes that participation in the war and the performance of ANZAC troops at Gallipoli showed Australia's commitment to participating in the larger world.

I'll catalogue this under learning something new everyday. I've long been aware of the significance of ANZAC Day to Australia and New Zealand, but I was unaware of its political saliency through the 20th century. I'm glad Australia is a solid US ally. Here's a belated salute to ANZAC Day.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Agree


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