As introduction to an assignment, exploring the history of ANZAC Day, play this wonderful historically rich, multimodal resource from Utube. It is called “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda” and was submitted by smileynoir. The slideshow will cause curiosity amongst your students, as they sense the ambivalence of the authors of the production. Once they have viewed the material, explore this background sketch to the history and nature of Anzac Day.
Every April, a march is held on ANZAC DAY to commemorate the Gallipoli Landings during the First World War. Those who fought for peace in other wars are also remembered. In Australia, there is a public holiday held on 25th of April or thereabouts each year. The celebrations are solemn. The purpose is to remember soldiers who died. A bugler plays the “Last Post” and there is two minutes of silence. The silence is both to give space to remember as well as to evidence respect and gratitude.
Two important remembrance sentences said with reverence are, “Lest we forget” and “We will remember them.”
The Importance of The ANZAC Day Ceremony
The celebration of this event is important for Australians even though the troops were butchered at Gallipoli in 1915. The point is that we must never forget the senseless waste and carnage that always accompanies war.
Through respectful ceremony, we show that our community
- is aware of the suffering and sacrifice of those who fought for us
- is grateful for our freedom
- acknowledges that families were effected by the loss brought about by war
- remembers soldiers who fought in other wars and those who fight for and protect us now
- makes a personal commitment to learn about nonviolent communication
- continues the movement for world peace
As the students listen to the music and watch the Photostory presentation, they will be introduced to the idea that
- there is a dawn parade at 6am
- a bugler plays the last post
- after the ceremony there is a parade in which soldiers of all ranks, past and present, in full dress, march through the streets as their bands play
- other proud Australians line the streets and cheer supporting them in spirit
Australia “stops for the day” and people celebrate as a united community. This united stand creates a special feeling of bond and good will.
You may need to encourage the students to view the video a few times, so that the meaning and context seeps into their consciousness. To help them gain a deeper understanding, ask them to talk about the feelings the music and imagery evokes. Encourage them to explore the strange way the music speaks of the feelings and the confusion felt about the meaning of the day. As they view the range of photographs – go with them – allowing them to chat about the effects of old fashioned photography. Talk to them about Box Brownie Cameras and how difficult it must have been for the photographers to capture the feelings, sights and the implied sounds of World War 1 trench warfare.
Ask them to tease out sentences and images, sounds and inflections that signal feelings of ambivalence that the singer and the writer and authors of the photo journal script convey.
Facilitate a discussion about the sepia and black and white photography. Draw their attention to the emotions and reactions this type of photography can illicit.
Explain that the students will be creating a Photostory Exploration of contemporary Anzac Day celebrations. Invite them to photograph interesting aspects and snapshots of this years’ parade..
Interview older people on tape or on video, as this might become historical material worth archiving. As a way of binding the material together, locate or write relevant music.
When the students create the resource, ask them to imagine that they are preparing material with which to teach younger classes about the meaning of Anzac Day. In this way the project will culminate in the production of modern resources that have practical historical application. They can be used at this time each year.
* NB. For those who are not Australian, here is an article by Stephen Crabbe, which talks of the famous Waltzing Matilda. A “Matilda” was the name given to the backpack of an Australian Bushman or Swagman. These days it is often just called a “swag.” “To “Waltz Matilda” was to carry your pack around the bush. (Colonial Australians were a romantic bunch.)