I know there’s a bit of a tussle about the true meaning of ANZAC day out there in elitist latte sipping land but to my mind, the argument has already been won and been won quite conclusively some time ago.
ANZAC day is a holy day. It has everything a holy day has: the dawn ritual, the pilgrimage overseas, the marches and the displays of devoutness.
For that reason, only a fool will attempt to speak rationally about the “facts” behind ANZAC day. ANZAC day being Australia’s single true religious holiday is not about rationality, it is purely about emotions and religious identity. What’s more, ANZAC day is a state-sanctioned holy day.
For those reasons, on ANZAC day I treat my home city of Melbourne, one of the most diverse and culturally accepting cities in the world as I would Mecca during the Haj, as I would Haridwar during the Kumb Mela, as I would Bali during Nyepi, as I would Jerusalem, the Vatican and Bodhgaya pretty much every day. I act as I would in any country with a state religion where you can be lawfully prosecuted for religious violations.
So on ANZAC day, I treat every devotee with the utmost respect, I display their religious emblem to indicate support, I try to keep entirely to known parts of town. Most importantly I keep my opinions to myself and my damn fool mouth shut – especially if the other person is a white Australian I don’t know too well.
After all, you wouldn’t denigrate Mohammed to a Muslim or insult the Pope in front of a Catholic, would you?