Tasmanian governor Peter Underwood died on Monday night. He has been remembered in his home state as a strong advocate of peace and social justice. To mark the passing of Underwood, here is an extract from a speech he gave on Anzac Day this year. The speech was criticised in some quarters for deviating from the script on the Anzac myth. Underwood will not be here to set out his case at the centenary of Anzac Day next year, so we’re republishing this extract. We think it’s well worth reading and remembering.
On this Anzac Day, the centennial anniversary of the commencement of World War I, how do we commemorate — that is, call to remembrance — that terrible event and all the subsequent violent conflicts in which Australia has been involved over the last 100 years — mankind’s greatest century of violence? Much has been, and will be, said about the Anzac spirit, but I venture to repeat the caution that I have sounded before on this day, against glorifying war with descriptions of the mythical tall, lean, bronzed and laconic Anzac, enthusiastically and unflinchingly carrying the torch of freedom in the face of murderous enemy fire, or as Lieutenant Colonel Burke wrote, the “bold, laughing soldiers” who “fought as they lived — bravely, openly, independently, and without fear.”