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Active Retirees : Active Retirees April-May 2012
Active RetireesTM | 31 WOMEN IN THE MILITARY Flight Lieutenant Liesl Franklin graduated from the Australian Defence Force Academy in 2006 and was awarded the Chief of Air Forces prize. She applied to be an Air Force pilot, she explains, because of the “balance between financial opportunity and life experiences”. Given the long debate in Australia about the role of women in the military – recently amplified as the government announced its plans to remove all gender restrictions on military positions – Franklin’s opinion is refreshingly simple. For Franklin, it’s not a gender issue, but a strength issue: “Some men can jump further, run faster, and sometimes jobs demand that.” As for the Anzac spirit, it could be argued that women would be excluded from a workplace that commemorates male feats, masculine values and manly character. Franklin easily dismisses such an argument: “Anzac is a male-dominated story, but gender doesn’t affect whether you can appreciate it or not.” Warrant Officer Dave Ashley doesn’t feel that anything has changed or will change as a result of the government’s latest policy. “In ADF operations, women are in harm’s way every day already,” says Ashley, who has just returned from Afghanistan. “They’re outside of the wire each day. And I think they’re doing extremely well.” – some of my teachers had killed people in the war and they didn’t like it at all.” Arthur is all too aware of the tragic cost of war. He recalls that his father helped care for a WWI veteran: “it was around 1927 and this fella was still wearing his .38 revolver, which he’d brought back from the war, strapped around his waist. Suddenly, he’d yell ‘ Roy! There’s one coming over’ and dive into a dirt culvert by the road. He was one of the fellas that suffered from shell shock.” For Beryl and Arthur, history exists as a counterpoint to contemporary life. Some might say there is a political edge to anything that presents Australia as the lucky country, but Beryl and Arthur are also perfect examples of how everyday Australians are creating an ever yday histor y. Justice for Anzac Associate Professor Mark McKenna suggests that taking an organised approach to both reading and discussing the Anzacs is the best way to avoid letting nationalistic fervour distract from the real history. For McKenna, “ if we’re wanting to do justice to the men who died then we have to be sure that we don’t take their deaths to inflate our own national pride. A lot of them would have been astonished at the monolithic structure that we’ve built out of their deaths.” It seems, since the earliest dispatches, that the Gallipoli landing was destined to be an important part of the Australian identity. But histor y should not be altered for political ends. Rather than seeking a national identity that emulates military character and values, perhaps we would all be better off thinking of ourselves as the sort of people who respect histor y, gather informed points of view, and discuss them over a cuppa. In this way, Anzac history can truly bring people together, not as a nation of conformists, but as a diverse people complete with differing views and opinions. •• What does Anzac Day mean to other Australians? Turn to page 32 to find out. » Australian Government Department of Defence Australian Government Department of Defence Australian Government Department of Defence
Active Retirees Feb-March 2012
Active Retirees June-July 2012