Anzac instincts

The missing modern military voice

Featured in

  • Published 20150505
  • ISBN: 9781922182807
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IT IS A curious thing, perhaps unique to Australia, that someone appraising the phenomenon of Anzac – that shared national oath to remember military sacrifice and honour wartime service – must first present genealogical military credentials. It’s a defensive move; it declares you share the Anzac spirit, and have a claim to it – an inoculation of sorts against the charge of being unqualified to speak to a topic of such secular sacredness.

In a country where the Anzac spirit stirs passions it can also carve emptiness. How to connect with Anzac if you’ve never donned a uniform? How to feel martial pride when you are martially barren, missing a military link? Family ties help. So when respected journalists pen an analysis of Anzac they often append a notation of a family member’s military service in World War II, or better still World War I. Those addendums declare, ‘I am a part of this, not just a disinterested observer, my family story allows me to have a say in what this Anzac thing means.’

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

About the author

James Brown

James Brown is the author of Anzac’s Long Shadow: The Cost of Our National Obsession (Black Inc., 2014) and a former army officer who...

More from this edition

An unexpected bequest

EssayIT IS IMPOSSIBLE to look at daguerreotypes of nineteenth-century Australian women in their hats and heavy, long dresses without wondering how they managed to...

Barrier thinking

EssayIN VIETNAM, MINES accounted for half of the Second Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR) soldiers killed in action. Two of those killed on mines...


GR Online All images © Nadia Wheatley   I VIVIDLY REMEMBER my reaction when I discovered that my father had worked at Belsen. This revelation came in 1983, a...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.