To me, there’s no glory in war. In a World War One context, “Lest we forget” should be about the foolish futility of sending young men and women off to die to defend arbitrary national borders on the other side of the world, while in recent years, “Lest we forget” should symbolise the rank stupidity of blindly trusting in the concept of military intelligence.
Every Anzac Day, I play the Irish Rovers’ version of No Man’s Land (Willie McBride), with the beautiful final verse:
And I can’t help but wonder now, Willie McBride
Do them that lie here, do they know why they died?
Did you really believe them when they told you the cause?
Did you really believe that this war would end wars?
For the suffering and the sorrow and the glory and the shame
And the killing and the dying, it was all done in vain.
For Willie McBride, it’s all happened again
And again and again and again and again.
I salute the fallen, who have had their lives taken from them. But all of the talk of our so-called glorious Anzac history simply leaves me cold.