An Epic Forgetting

University of Western Sydney
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sydney Review of Books, 2014, August
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
There has been an extraordinary resurgence in the commemoration of Australians at war in recent decades. An estimated 50 000 people attended Anzac Day marches around the nation in 1984; a generation later, in 2014, more than that number attended the dawn service at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance alone. As backpackers undertake the rite of passage to Gallipoli, record numbers swell Anzac marches at home, and the news fills with emotive, resonant images of war, past and present. Yet there is a blind-spot in this clamour to commemorate, as Henry Reynolds insists in his latest book, Forgotten War. ‘Since 1994 there has been a continuous program to commemorate the men and women who have served in Australia’s overseas wars from 1885 to the present,’ he writes; and yet conflict also ‘accompanied the pioneer settlers into almost every district on the continent’. It is this war ‘between settlers and Indigenous nations’ that ‘made the nation’, Reynolds argues, ‘not the fateful invasion of Turkey’
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