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Reflections on ANZAC Day: Citizens across the globe need to celebrate peace socially

By Pushkar Raj* 

Australia along with the countries of the region commemorated ANZAC day on April 25.
For the novice, it stands for Australian And New Zealand Army Corps that fought in Gallipoli campaign in the First world war with a loss of 8,709 uniformed men from Australia, 2,721 from New Zealand and perishing 56000 allied forces.
Both the countries- Australia and New Zealand lost about 78000 combatants in the first world war.
After the II world war the day was turned into a Memorial Day for all those who had risked or laid down life in the interest of the country.

Discovery of the Ship

However, ANZAC day 2023, becomes special for the thousands of families because of discovery of an unfortunate ship whose inmates dodged the enemy but fell to prey of torpedo of the friend perishing at the bed of sea while coming back home during II World war in July 1942.
The case demonstrates futility of war in which there are no winners.
The Japanese ship, Montevideo Maru was transporting an estimated 1089 fighters from 14 nations including 779 Australians, rescued as prisoners of war held at Papua New Guinea.
But the ship was hit by mistake by an American submarine sinking it in minutes at an unknown location which was identified and located three days back but was left undisturbed as a mark of respect as ‘war grave’.
The story may have a little significance for the war mongers but for the families of victims it has an indescribable significance.
It provides them with a closure and douses the pain of wait and accompanied misery.

Pain of Loss

The families were devasted in the aftermath of sinking with tales that wrenched the heart and shook the soul questioning the war as a method of communication amongst nations.
One mother had sent her third, the youngest son to the war because the other two were willing to go and she wanted the middle one to be protected by the youngest, who was healthier and smarter. None of them came back.
In some case the families went through the harrowing experience of deprivation compromising on children’s education and at the worst giving them for adoption. The concerned family relatives numbering thousands (two were on board the search ship) were, in fact , were greater sufferer of consequences of war.
The war, that still rages so close to us that we just need to step in our lounge and switch on the television or see our palm, our mobile phone- our alter-ego!

National Peace Day

That is why if some peaceniks ask for a parallel rally for rape victims of war or any forms of protests questioning the war, they must, at least be heard, if not listened or consulted, notwithstanding UN Peace Day (21 Sep) commemorations with rehashed themes, repeated speeches, and little impact on peace building
Therefore, the governments across the globe (democracies, banana republics and superpowers) might consider fixing a day in a year when citizens have the option/ choice of commemorating the National Peace Day with preferred encouragement of a national holiday.
To argue that festivals of all religions teach peace and there is plethora of them during the year is a false assumption, for increase in religious festivity over the period has not decreased war and its suffering.
The citizens need to celebrate peace socially so that they can demand it politically when they realise that the peace of community, state, republic, nation, what you will, is in jeopardy due to irresponsible and at times manic or insane rulers.
This could be one of the ways to ensure, we never have to send our loved ones to be killed in a war at the first place, at least in democracies!
---
*Researcher and Author based in Melbourne

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