Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Defining the Nation

Something that's been irking me. I'm afraid I'm getting a bit ANZACed out. The notion that the failed Galipoli Campaign defined the Nation, that 8 months, 2 weeks & 1 day trumps every other Australian historical experience is almost jingoistic.

I'm going to be blunt. What defined us before Gallipoli and indeed before federation was the 112 year frontier war enforcing Terra nullius with muskets, poison and massacres. You can add the historical timeline of colonial expansion that grew to make Australia a pastoral powerhouse, add convict labour and the gold rushes but what brought us to federation was riding on the sheep's back & the White Australia policy.

Federation defined us as a nation. Gallipoli was an Australian action of war 15 years later which, although deserving observation, by venerating it as Nation Defining denies a tapestry of history, both glorious and brutal, that produced the men that stormed the peninsula beaches.

It's almost as if Gallipoli washed away exploration, expansion and the war against the original People's. I've heard squeaks for the Australian War Memorial to acknowledge the frontier wars but I don't actually agree with this.

I see as far more appropriate a dedicated place be created. A place of learning and history forming a memorial, museum and cultural repository for the Nation.

One of the documented corroboree grounds in Canberra by chance still exists despite the filling of Lake Burley Griffin. Today it is a peninsula of Black Mountain (originally Black's Mountain) and is adopted today as a recreational park.

I've long thought a memorial was necessary but when I heard of the dire state of saving old indigenous films and recordings through lack of funding and facilities in a race against time I understood the need for a national institution.

So when we have finished commemorating every centennial battle anniversary of World War One till 2018 perhaps people could throw the equivalent of the centennial celebrations costs toward something just as representative of defining the nation. Perhaps the politically incorrect gargoyles at the War Memorial, seemingly unwanted amongst the flora and fauna, could be an exhibit in my proposed Indigenous memorial/museum/repository. 'On your left.. aboriginal representation circa 1940's Australia."

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