The commercial hype leading up to Anzac Day is almost too much to bear

I’m embarrassed to admit, the commercial hype leading up to the Centenary of ANZAC has made me somewhat weary and I’m now questioning how this significant moment in our history should best be honoured.

When the latest catalogue from Target arrived last week, I flicked through to see the new season fashion and was stunned when I turned the final page.

‘Only 10 days until ANZAC Day. Hurry while stocks last’.

Hurry to get in store before the 100th Anniversary to buy your ANZAC memorabilia wrist bands, drink holders, candles, tea towel sets, bone china mugs and the list of products goes on.

With disgust, I threw the catalogue into the rubbish recycling bin and wondered what Target was thinking.

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They were thinking of helping to raise money for Camp Gallipoli Foundation, a charity endorsed at the highest level by the Federal Government, ANZAC Centenary Committee, RSL and Legacy and set up to preserve and foster the unique spirit of ANZAC commemorations.

A few days later, Target pulled three of the commemorative products – hoodies, beanies and the drink holders – not through any rethink of moral conscience but because of a government crackdown on the use of the branding ANZAC.

This was hot on the heels of Woolworths pulling the pin on its controversial ‘Fresh in our Memories’ ANZAC Day advertising campaign which brought a storm of community-led criticism.

As we draw closer to April 25th, the media flurry surrounding the commemoration is growing more intense. It seems every second promo on television is devoted to each network’s upcoming coverage of ANZAC Day and why it will be the best one to watch.

The program anchors are en route to Gallipoli ready to take up the ultimate vantage point at ANZAC Cove to bring us their exclusive reports. On the way they’re filing the mandatory colour story to keep up viewer interest. Who knew the history behind that dark brew that is Turkish coffee?

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Thankfully, among the blatant commercial grabs for a slice of the ANZAC commemoration action, the ABC has been a shining light.

The recent episode of Four Corners – Anzac to Afghanistan – provided much-needed perspective about the true meaning of the ANZAC Centenary.

In essence, the program featured videotaped interviews from the 1980s by renowned journalist Chris Masters with some of our last surviving Gallipoli veterans.

Their voices and their message made powerful, compelling viewing.

ANZAC soldier Bill De Saxe told the journalist, “No, I wasn’t a hero. It was just a case of: you made friends and mates, you know, and that, while you were in training and that sort of thing. And you wanted to join them. Not from any bloody hero … don’t put me down as that, for God’s sake. I was no bloody hero”.

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All we have now are the recorded voices of those who served on the frontline at Gallipoli and perhaps the greatest respect we can give them is to take the time to listen and learn from those voices.

Thanks, but no thanks to those who would try to convince me of the need to put a commercial spin on the ANZAC Centenary commemoration.

For me, commemorating this historic day has always been about solemn reflection. From my earliest days at primary school, I recall the occasion of the ANZAC Day assembly – the laying of the wreaths, the hoisting of the Australian flag, the minute’s silence, The Last Post played scratchily on the bugle – always under the watchful eye of an invited member of the armed services.

Solemn reflection – it was the way of commemoration for our ANZAC veterans like Bill De Saxe and his is the only lead I need to follow.

Lest we Forget.

 

How will you commemorate Anzac Day on Saturday? Do you think it is right to commercialise Anzac Day, even if the money goes to a good cause?