As such, it has been seen as a key event in forging a sense of national identity. The Gallipoli campaign was the beginning of true Australian nationhood.
Anzac Day traditions and rituals: a quick guide
When Australia went to war in , many white Australians believed that their Commonwealth had no history, that it was not yet a true nation, that its most glorious days still lay ahead of it. In this sense the Gallipoli campaign was a defining moment for Australia as a new nation. Ernest Scott 's influential A Short History of Australia , which remained a standard school text for nearly four decades from and went through six editions in its author's lifetime, clearly enunciated this concept.
In the preface to the book's first edition, Scott linked the European settlement of Australia with the idea of Australia becoming a nation on the battlefields of Gallipoli:. This Short History of Australia begins with a blank space on the map and ends with the record of a new name on the map, that of Anzac.
Charles Bean also propagated this view, extending the notion to suggest that New Zealand nationhood was also born in the First World War.
Fighting McKenzie, the Anzac spirit and Australian values
In Bean wrote that:. Anzac Day now belongs to the past and during the war all energy was concentrated on the future but the influence of the Gallipoli Campaign upon the national life of Australia and New Zealand has been far too deep to fade… it was on the 25th of April that the consciousness of nationhood was born. The popular belief that the Anzacs, through their spirit, forged Australia's national character, is still today frequently expressed.
We are summoned to recall the battle sacrifices of Australian farmers and tally clerks, teachers and labourers and to commemorate outstanding courage and strength of character in the face of sustained adversity An extension of this belief is the idea that the Anzacs set an example for future generations of Australians to follow, laying the bedrock of 'Australian values'.
In the Australian Defence Minister Brendan Nelson articulated this view, stating that the Anzacs "forged values that are ours and make us who we are, reminding us that there are some truths by which we live. The Anzac spirit is also sometimes said to be exhibited during Australian civilian crises. For example, the Returned and Services League of Australia states:. At those times Australians come together to rescue one another, to ease suffering, to provide food and shelter, to look after one another, and to let the victims of these disasters know they are not alone.
In New Zealand, the Anzac spirit is similarly pointed to in some quarters as forming an important component of New Zealand national identity. New Zealand soldiers distinguished themselves with their courage and skill, establishing an enduring bond with the Australians they fought alongside Great suffering was caused to a small country by the loss of so many of its young men. But the Gallipoli campaign showcased attitudes and attributes - bravery, tenacity, practicality, ingenuity, loyalty to King and comrades - that helped New Zealand define itself as a nation, even as it fought unquestioningly on the other side of the world in the name of the British Empire.
After Gallipoli, New Zealand had a greater confidence in its distinct identity, and a greater pride in the international contribution it could make.
And the mutual respect earned during the fighting formed the basis of the close ties with Australia that continue today. Professor Manning Clark , in his influential work A History of Australia , suggested a contrasting image of the innocent and honourable Anzac soldier. From a range of sources he provided evidence of the soldiers' bad behaviour.
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For example, he documented that, as recruits, some indulged in sex orgies with an year-old girl at the Broadmeadows camp before being shipped to war. Other scholars such as professor of politics at La Trobe University , Robert Manne , have also questioned the veracity of the Anzac legend, arguing that it is more accurate to describe the concept as a mythology.
While traits such as egalitarianism, resourcefulness and initiative are assumed and maintained in the nation's popular memory as a truthful representation, not only of Australia's First World War soldiers, but also, of the national character, they were not sufficiently evident in the experience of the 1st Battalion [at Gallipoli] to justify their advancement as characteristics general to Australian soldiers or the nation.
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According to Blair, the official war historian Charles Bean "advanced an idealised view of sacrifice to provide the nation with higher meaning and comfort as compensation for the death of its soldiers". Professor Verity Burgmann of the University of Melbourne argues that the prevailing picture of Anzac and later battles on the Western Front as the highest representation of national unity and shared sacrifice is a misrepresentation, because two conscription referenda were defeated in Australia, and many Australians were totally opposed to any participation in the war.
The legend of Anzac remains relevant to many Australians. The word "Anzac", however, has different meanings for different people, and so remains open to interpretation. Dawn of the Legend: The Anzac spirit. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share using email. Australians still invoke the Anzac spirit in times of conflict, danger and hardship.
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Dawn of the Legend: 25 April Explore the Collection. Come and see why. Find out more. Donate today. Places of Pride Places of Pride, the National Register of War Memorials, is a new initiative designed to record the locations and photographs of every publicly accessible memorial across Australia.
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