Friday, April 25, 2008

Anzac Day upstages Anne Carson

Above: "Because he's our Dad!"

Thoughts of Anne Carson and her classical poetry led me to Auckland War Memorial Museum on Friday, April 25. But those thoughts did not last for long as the museum was putting on Anzac Day. If ‘putting on’ sounds too much like a stage-managed event, you had better get used to it. Anzac Day 2008 in front of the museum’s classical columns was a slick 45-minute show complete with a female announcer, three bands and a speech by the Defence Minister Phil Goff before an audience of about 2,000. And it didn’t rain, for once.

Anzac Day is becoming one of the success stories in New Zealand’s myth making. It is now not just an annual event but a daily encounter with your past. Key into your home computer the name of a relative who went to any war since the New Zealand Wars and the museum’s Anzac Day database will give you a readout of what happened to that person, male or female.

I found a soldier named Edward Albert Wood, a tailor. In 1916 he sailed with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force from Wellington. When he returned he did not run down the gangplank into the arms of his loved one. He was carried off a second gangway for the wounded at the rear of the ship, having lost a leg. However, his loved one stood by him, my grandmother.

Forget any notion of Anzac Day dying away with the old soldiers. Technology is letting it reach out to each new generation. It only gets bigger.


Wordslave said...

I agree that ANZAC day gets bigger each year. We need it. we need a past, we need legends, maybe we even need a mythology.

Despite the insanity of war, we recognise the courage of our forebears, relatives, friends, and strangers who surrendered their future for something we can't quite nail down.

Gregory Wood said...

Thank you for your feedback Bruce. The presence of so many women in the photograph shows that the issue is not gender specific.