We tried to do something we wouldn't normally do, go to a movie on Anzac Day. But we couldn't get in.
So we had to wait for today to see Beneath Hill 60, a remarkable movie about the tunnellers in France. When we got there it transpired the difficulty in seeing the film was that Greater Union had it in their smallest cinema (normally for Silver Screen). At least it was shown at a major cinema chain!
The story is compelling but it really does leave you with the simple question, why did the troops keep fighting? Niall Fergusson in his Pity of War poses this question, and the answer that I can remember was the misinformation created about the treatment of prisoners by both sides. Unfortunately there were a few incidents on both sides that gave just enough credence to this.
It was refreshing to hear the minister at MacChap (whose grandfather was one of the tunnellers who survived) preach an Anzac Day sermon (sermon not loaded at time of writing) that was a sermon that preached that the only possible response to War is either to be a pacifist or that the war met a standard of a "just war". Good message, though of course the same message could be preached in a "humanist" or "secular" ethics. It is just that I don't see that many of those people bothering.
The service wasn't all brilliant. One person incorrectly described Villes-Bretineaux as a battle fought to turn back the German "fighting machine" and stopped it swarming Europe. Well, it can be figured as one of the "turning points" ... but the troops had been facing each other in essentially static trenches for two years.
Anzav Day is a great day to remember one thing. War is not the solution.
Having said that, I disagree with the Minister's view. When started the war in Afghanistan was a just war, but they blew it once they went to war in Iraq. By the same token threatening war in Iraq was the right strategy, but it should never have been waged without 100% European support (at which point it wouldn't have needed to occur - Sadam never believed the Americans would invade).
But exitting Afghanistan now would equally be unjust - the rules go you broke it you fix it.
Strangely, fixing it would be the mosy Christian of acts, but can only occur through the application of secular ethicial and political values.