Australia’s cradle-creedal oath is born and nurtured by the ANZAC legend when we cry ‘Lest We Forget’. An identity conceived from our infant nation’s blood shed on foreign soils and seas. Through victories and heroic defeat ‘Australianhood’ is gestated as we remember those who fought and died to keep us young and free. Enduring and perpetual public memorial enshrines our collective embryonic memory consolidating a transplanted nation and its burgeoning multicultural fractals. We needed this birth because non-indigenous Australians have been delivered to these shores since colonisation from ancient civilisations with umbilical cords flexing from as far as the other side of the planet.
British colonies combined giving succour to the new nation. However, the truth is, from the time of European occupation 123 years before federation, as many as 300,000 or more aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples perished through acts of colonial ‘war’, sanctioned genocide, murder and manslaughter.
These First People’s borders were squandered, and their ancient civilisations largely terminated through imperial decree and military instruments of mass destruction. The cruelty of racist supremacy fuelled by economic greed continues as the original custodians of the continent’s land and water ways suffer the covert and enduring consequences of inter-generational pillage and trauma. Their blood cries out from the ground while there is still no memorial or national celebration of these Frontier Wars’ dead.
Australians of diverse origins and creeds are facing up to the once-hidden hypocrisy of blood on the wattle. We need to come of age as a nation and boldly remember both the 102,000 military deaths and recognise the deaths of three times as many First Peoples on our own soil. The legitimacy of our national identity is genetically faulty unless we recognise and remember the whole story in the celebration of what it means to remember all that fell in the birth of the land we now call Australia.
The Christian church, and Anglicans in particular, have responded to both front lines of foreign military conflict and First People’s destruction since colonisation, calling for justice. Recently the Desert Pea Blood Flower of the Barkindji nation, more commonly known as Sturt’s Desert Pea, has been recognised as a floral emblem to parallel, not compete with. the Flanders Poppy. Their song line seeks peace through remembering the battle of two aboriginal groups where one was massacred and the other called to account by the Great Spirit for their deaths in a Cain and Abel like scenario. The following season the vivid red flower emerged from the ground crying out for healing and peace just as the Flanders poppy defied the carnage on the western front with its red emblematic call. With the elder’s permission and request the Desert Pea is now becoming a talisman for peace and healing.
On ANZAC Eve 24 April there will be a Day of Workshops and Reflection for the death and destruction of First Peoples facilitated by a team led by the Rev Hazel Davies at the Chapel of The Australian Centre of Christianity and Culture at Blackall Street in Barton, ACT. People wanting to be equipped or reflect are welcome to events that will roll through the day from 11.00am to 5.00pm. This will connect with the evening Peace Vigil from the top of Mount Ainslie to the War Memorial commencing at 6.00pm. More details are available online at www.facebook.com/desertpeabloodflower, Or you can contact Hazel directly via email firstname.lastname@example.org. Peas/ce be with you this ANZAC Day.
by Reverend Hazel Davies