I didn't go to a Dawn Service this morning, nor did I protest against one. I'm not very fond of dawn. If I wasn't so morning averse I wouldn't have attended the service, but protested. Although the actions in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch actions weren't exactly what I wanted to do in response to ANZAC day either(which isn't meant to be a slur on those who did them in any way).
I have protested ANZAC day services in the past and one of the problems is how almost any anti-war message can be co-opted into the official service. The Foreign Minister said
"In remembering the suffering and loss on both sides, let us commit ourselves to working for a world where differences between nations can be resolved without resort to war."Which is a ridiculous statement, when right now we have troops overseas, but he is able to say such a thing without anyone pointing out the contradiction.
I imagine, although I don't know, that many of the people at the dawn service would agree with Span:
When I hear the words "lest we forget" I do think of the violence and destruction that characterises war. I can't help but visualise the young men suffering in the trenches of WWI and the many women who are inevitably victims in times of conflict. Maybe it's just me, but I'd actually formed the impression that one of the reasons turnouts were swelling was a view in Aotearoa, held by many, that the price of war is too high, and it must be avoided. That we gather on Anzac Day to acknowledge past sacrifices made, but also to remind ourselves that we do not want to go there again.A weird kind of consensus seems to have emerged - war was a pointless waste, that it should never happen again, and that the deaths of those soldiers was a sacrifice that 'we' gained from in some unspecified way.
What I think is really important is to break this consensus. I don't think that can be done at dawn on ANZAC day, and instead we have to challenge the predominate narrative in the run-up to ANZAC day. We need to name the people who benefited from war, and the people who sent young boys to the slaughter. In particular to challenge the idea that the army and the state that sent young men unnecessarily to their deaths, could be a part of saying "Never Again".