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How do we explain ANZAC Day to little kids?


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I'm thinking of offering my 8-yr-old grandson's teacher to talk to his class about the significance of ANZAC Day. I don't want to make a great deal of the battles, but will incorporate something of the general idea of bravery and bearing up to dangerous situations.

 

What I want to do is to explain the reason so many people went to war in terms that the kids would understand. To that end, I want to describe what they did as a response to some countries bullying their own people and then wanting to bully other countries and steal things from the people in those countries. That in the process, the bullies hurt people, and it was the job of our people to stop that and send the bullies back to their own country.

 

Has anyone got ideas hat could be incorporated in that sort of explanation?

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Great question and I don't believe there is one correct answer.  As a child I can remember being annoyed at the "they were all brave and fearless" message.  Somehow this did not ring true that every member of the ANZAC generation was exceptionally brave and fearless.    I think it would have made a bigger impression on me if it had conveyed not only bravery but fear and regret and other perhaps less stereotypical characteristics.   I think perhaps these days it often is explained in a more realistic way.

 

Between 1979 and 1990 I was a fulltime musician in the  RAAF band and I would have played at I would say at least 50+ ceremonies and listened to the associated speeches.  There were some appalling ones but many moving ones that didn't just talk about heroism and patriotism but presented a more nuanced commentary.    Just in case people wonder how I could have played at 50 ANZAC ceremonies in 11 years the answer is that in the week leading up to ANZAC day we would do ceremonies at schools.        I think over the years ANZAC day has become a much bigger affair. Back in the early 80s not many people actually went to ANZAC cove but now it is quite popular amongst young adults.

 

I think you explanation around bullying is quite good but let me just play devils advocate for a moment.

 

Dad (or Grandad)  "I heard that in Myanmar the army arrested the government and have taken over and that people are getting locked up and shot. Isn't this bullying?   Why aren't we sending soldiers to stop the bullying?"

 

I think your explanation is probably pretty good.   When I had a child that age I tried to be factually accurate and not drift towards jingoism or exceptionalism.

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I have just mounted my Dad's medals and a summary of his service history. I have replicas of my Grandfather's medals and am waiting to know if they will give me his Anzac Commemorative medal as he was a 25th April Anzac. https://www.defence.gov.au/medals/imperial/wwi/Anzac-Commemorative-Medallion.asp  I have shown these two sets of medals to my grandson, more as a way to introduce him to his ancestry. I've also shown him his family tree as far as I have done it.

 

I think that equating bullying to starting wars is probably the simplest way to have little kids understand the reasons people put themselves in danger. The kids have been drilled on anti-bullying behaviour, so it is an application of a concept they know.

 

That question about Myanmar does raise a point, but I think kids be spoken to about ANZAC Day wouldn't be thinking about conflicts outside their own little worlds.

 

The jingoistic approach to the commemoration is definitely out of date. It only breeds a warlike culture as we see in the culture of the USA.

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ome, pure coincidence, but last night I watched the movie 'We were Soldiers' on tv. Mel Gibson's character, Lt.Col. Hal Moore, was asked that very same question by his youngest daughter. His answer was basically the same as yours. Probably no better way to explain it.

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2 hours ago, willedoo said:

Probably no better way to explain it.

 

5 hours ago, octave said:

think your explanation is probably pretty good

Geez, do you mean that I've finally posted something that people agree with? 

 

Thanks for your support.

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Just now, old man emu said:

Geez, do you mean that I've finally posted something that people agree with? 

   What's that saying about a broken clock being right twice a day?    again, only joking.😃

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Well feel free to disagree with me. I reckon they were bored colonials who were suddenly offered an overseas adventure with pay instead of costs.

Yes it was not what they were expecting, but by then they were trapped.

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Just tell the kids what we always re-state on Anzac Day.

 

We are not celebrating war, we are celebrating the sacrifices and the outstanding human qualities, that most of our soldiers showed, when faced with some of the worst behaviour that mankind could ever indulge in.

 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-20/why-remembering-wars-is-a-moral-concern-for-all-of-us/8819476

 

I'm looking forward to Anzac Day, when I march through Perth CIty, wearing all my hard-won medals, to the accolades of what is usually around 30,000 people.

This year, I also get to wear my new suit that I bought in early 2020, which I've never even worn yet!

It's nice to be on the receiving end of that level of respect and appreciation for what we endured, in our little S.E. Asian war games exercise, where we were led to believe we were stopping the rampant spread of Communism.

 

I think a lot more good has come out of our Vietnam War efforts, than many people appreciate.

We as a nation, have gained a lot of Vietnamese people who enjoy their ability to live under relatively stable and enduring democratic Govts, rather than the murderous, oppressive regime that is the current style of Govt in Vietnam.

Our democracy wasn't founded by purposely murdering people who opposed a regime of terrorism and thought control - and I believe that any country who founds their style of Govt on terrorism and murder, is bound to collapse eventually.

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9 hours ago, onetrack said:

we are celebrating the sacrifices and the outstanding human qualities

They are the very qualities that a good person must use to stop bullies. These kids see enough violence through their video games and even the crap that is considered OK for "children's TV". 

 

I think that I should also include the fact that, while people volunteered to stop the bullying, once the job was done these same people came back home and lived peacefully for the rest of their lives. 

 

I suppose that another point to be made is that these people put their hands up and voluntarily said, "I'll help!".  

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21 minutes ago, old man emu said:

 

I think that I should also include the fact that, while people volunteered to stop the bullying, once the job was done these same people came back home and lived peacefully for the rest of their lives. 

 

I knew given enough time we would find a point of difference.   I may be misinterpreting of course.  I think we would agree that war should not be glorified we should also not conceal the lasting affects on the participants.    We need to present the facts.   A large number of soldiers who have served in a war zone do not just get home and slot back into their previous life.    Back in WW1 people who volunteered had little idea of the exact reasons for going to war and certainly had no idea about the reality of living and perhaps dying in a miserable trench.    Recruiting of volunteer soldiers has always partly relied upon unrealistic portrayals of what they were in for.

When I joined the RAAF in 1979 I came into contact with people who had served in Vietnam and by and large these people had injuries that were not physical but mental.  

 

One of the most moving things I have ever seen occurred in the 90s at the Australian war memorial.    My wife my young son and myself were wondering around the Vietnam display which by all accounts is quite accurate and also immersive.    My wife went to the ladies which was down a corridor, My son and I followed and sat on a bench.  On the next bench was a man I would guess in his 50s.  This fellow was a big bearded bloke.  He was sobbing in the manner of an extremely upset toddler.  Next to him his wife was patting his back and trying to comfort him.  This display had clearly opened painful memories.   This image has always stuck with me.   Later I had to explain to my son what was happening.   

 

I do no believe we should present a false picture that says "a bunch of really great guys goes abroad, shows Johnny Turk the error of his ways and is back to continue on where they left off." 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, octave said:

I knew given enough time we would find a point of difference.   I may be misinterpreting of course. 

Probably all down to the interpretation, and in a way, you're both right. From the point of view of civil peace and not having to fight a war again, ome is right. From the point of view of the veteran's inner peace, octave is right.

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The long term effects of war are most often forgotten, even today. My grandfather was a volunteer; an ANZAC on the 25th. His war lasted 14 days on that peninsula until he was wounded and evacuated. For the rest of his life he suffered the effects. In 1916, C J Dennis, of The Sentimental Bloke fame published a book of verse about the Bloke's mate, Ginger Mick. It tells of Ginger Mick and his army service. Then in 1918, Dennis published Digger Smith, about "little Smith of Collin'wood,  one of the singing soldiers who " 'owled a fightin' tune at Sari Bair'  

 

Digger Smith studies the effects of war upon the men who fought with Anzac eyes who

... talk of what they've seen and done.

When they've been out to 'ave their fun;

But no word of the game.

 

 

But the message I want to give is that these young people is that a lot of these men, in 1939 say it was their duty to stop the Fascist bullies, and the empire-building Japanese. A lot were naïve and went along for a lark, but in WWII, those young men had seen the horror of war in the eyes and injuries of their fathers and uncles. They grew up with the grandmother who wept when she saw the picture on the wall. And still they stepped up t the mark.

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The lead-up to virtually every war involves increasing belligerence by the warmongers, increasing military armaments buildup, and a failure to engage in genuine, peace-making talks.

Nearly all wars start over perceived injustice (or injustices) to groups that see themselves as lacking power.

Even the Germans before WW1 - despite being a powerful nation - saw themselves as being in a position of subservience in the world order. But their economy ranked 2nd in the world economic order in that era - only being surpassed by the U.S.

Add in a permanently militaristic stance (the Germans hired themselves out as mercenaries as far back as the 1600's - and the Scottish and Irish, even earlier, as mercenaries!), and the scene is set for regular wars.

 

As the interesting article below points out, mercenaries have no interest in stopping any war - but in continuing it, to add to their skills base and fame. And nations led by militaristic leaders, are always looking to go to a permanent war footing.

The Islamic religion promoted its power and gained territories by constantly prosecuting War on anyone who stood in their way.

As a result, the Islamic religion is basically highly militaristic, and willing to wage War at the drop of a hat (or upon the publication of a cartoon of Muhammad).

 

Much of the history of Wars has been about gaining additional territory to assist in supporting a burgeoning population. But often, the cause has been religious as well. 

Communism is a highly militaristic belief system, that promotes conquering enemies via territorial expansion, via any means available - terrorism, thought control, intensive population control (including restrictions on movement).


We need to be very aware when all the facets of potential war are coming to the fore - whether it's amongst our own leaders, or amongst leaders of other countries. Distrust of other countries leaders motives are a big feature of wars.

Wars can be avoided by constant genuine dialogue aimed at reducing tensions, and promoting peace in the disputed region or regions - or amongst the warring groups.

But when you're dealing with devious dictators who have hidden agendas, the peacemakers are often at a loss to find any common ground, to reduce tensions.

 

https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/44641084.pdf

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50 minutes ago, onetrack said:

Nearly all wars start over perceived injustice (or injustices) to groups that see themselves as lacking power.

Even the Germans before WW1 - despite being a powerful nation - saw themselves as being in a position of subservience in the world order. But their economy ranked 2nd in the world economic order in that era - only being surpassed by the U.S.

Sounds familiar - fast forward and you describe China today.

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9 hours ago, octave said:

 

I knew given enough time we would find a point of difference.   I may be misinterpreting of course.  I think we would agree that war should not be glorified we should also not conceal the lasting affects on the participants.    We need to present the facts.   A large number of soldiers who have served in a war zone do not just get home and slot back into their previous life.    Back in WW1 people who volunteered had little idea of the exact reasons for going to war and certainly had no idea about the reality of living and perhaps dying in a miserable trench.    Recruiting of volunteer soldiers has always partly relied upon unrealistic portrayals of what they were in for.

When I joined the RAAF in 1979 I came into contact with people who had served in Vietnam and by and large these people had injuries that were not physical but mental.  

 

One of the most moving things I have ever seen occurred in the 90s at the Australian war memorial.    My wife my young son and myself were wondering around the Vietnam display which by all accounts is quite accurate and also immersive.    My wife went to the ladies which was down a corridor, My son and I followed and sat on a bench.  On the next bench was a man I would guess in his 50s.  This fellow was a big bearded bloke.  He was sobbing in the manner of an extremely upset toddler.  Next to him his wife was patting his back and trying to comfort him.  This display had clearly opened painful memories.   This image has always stuck with me.   Later I had to explain to my son what was happening.   

 

I do no believe we should present a false picture that says "a bunch of really great guys goes abroad, shows Johnny Turk the error of his ways and is back to continue on where they left off." 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don't think there is a point of difference - just furthering the story...

 

Anyway, one of the things that can be added (this is going form a talk to a lecture now ;-)) is that the troops on the ground battling fior the bullies were not necessarily themselves doing it because they were bullies, but drafted in. There is the story of the armistices in Turkey and Europe, where both sides would take time to bury their dead - and inthe case of Turkey, when the troops (or pawns) got to know those from the other side, there was mutual admiration and respect. There is one in WWII where the Germans and the Allies (I think over winter) exchanged gifts they received from their families back home, played a game of football (soccer) and sang carols - to then return to fighting on behalf of their masters.

 

Importantly, those people also returned to their homes to live peaceful, and also impacted lives.

 

 

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Yes, the common soldier doesn't want to get hurt, and those on both sides of the front line share the same fears and discomforts. 

 

The difference between the WWI Australian forces and virtually those of the rest of the belligerents was that the Australians volunteered. No doubt it was the propaganda and jingoism they grew up with, but at least they had a choice. Their information might have been a little erroneous, but they still made a choice.

 

I think that the worst thing about the volunteering spirit was the abuse that those who attempted to enlist, but failed the medical, or did enlist and came home with no clearly visible injury like missing limbs or other body parts, were subjected to by the female population. This abuse got so bad that the Government issued badges to people who were not fit for service, or whose abilities were necessary for the war effort. https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/blog/australian-home-front-badges-first-world-war

 

 

WWI Badge - Returned from Active Service, Australia, 1914-1919  Collection Item C139537  Collection Item C139962Munitions Worker Badge REL/21893

 

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OME

I might be so ignorant, that I don,t understand All that is said !.

But l try to read all of your post,s ( mostly )..

Hopefully l may get a little enlightenment with your high caliber writings.

It must rub off on me just a little. LoL

spacesailor

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Spacey, I respect you because you have the guts to say that you don't understand, and don't try to big note yourself. At least you've built a plane, something I bet a lot of the stirrers haven't. To me that puts you in the "expert" category.

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