On the glory of our Anzac heroes

Roll of honour

Regular readers here at PCaL may have noticed (from the sidebar) that I’ve been reading a fair bit of stuff lately from the Orkney writer George Mackay Brown. Indeed, Brown’s work was the focus of my recent sabbatical project (to be continued) wherein I have been particularly interested in Brown’s presentation of the notion of time. But more on that later.

Brown’s third novel, Time in a Red Coat, is an extraordinary tale of a somewhat Melchizedekian heroine who travels through time in order to bring healing to a history and race marked by tragedy, mistrust and violence, and by the sheer absence of an imagination of a world unmarked by such.

Along the way, I was struck by these words, and was again reminded of the great pagan charade that Antipodeans know as ‘Anzac Day‘ (celebrated each year on 25 April, a day marked to remember the dishonesty of worldly politics, the brutality of empire, and by the fact that many ministers serving in the Antipodes are seduced every April by a temptation to place their salvation on the line):

‘If a knight was brought into the courtyard mortally wounded, words like “heroism” and “glory” and “fame” were invoked to cover the ugliness – and beautiful words were carved on his tomb stone’. (pp. 36–37)

One comment

  1. :) I think the line between just and unjust is a fine line. I see Anzac Day as a time for thanksgiving. It is a day to take stock of what we have. It is not a tribute to war, colonialism, or a nostalgic romanticism that celebrates the blunders, failures and the list can go on. Men and women responded to a call, right or wrong and the fruit of their efforts allow us certain ”freedoms and privileges” that we would otherwise not have. There are dangers and abuses, as you suggest, but the overriding theme of the day is theological, not ideological. For ”greater love has no man than to lay down his life or his friends’. To not engage on this level presents a greater danger that we become ignorant to the inhumanity that is manifested in the trenches, gas chambers, pointlessness, loss and despair.


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