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Easter meets Anzac

By David Cusworth - posted Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Once or twice in a century, Easter and Anzac Day share the same date – it last happened in 1943 and will occur again in 2038.

But curiously, in the way we calculate Easter it cannot fall after Anzac Day, it must always be a forerunner, perhaps the template on which great tales of sacrifice and renewal are patterned.

The themes that run through both stories are rich and deep; of sacrifice, the death of innocence, companionship, compassion, and the birth of a new reality.


Historians have written of the spirit before the Dardanelles Campaign, how classically educated British officers reflected on the legend of Troy and its omens for a seagoing power attacking the fortifications of the strait.

One of the British casualties was the poet Rupert Brooke, who wished that in death we think only "there is a corner of a foreign field that is forever England".

Brooke got his wish, along with thousands of others as the opening salvos of global, mechanised, total war reached out in their consequences to embrace the whole world.

We are still processing the echoes of those events, just as we continue to work out the consequences of Good Friday and the great leap of faith which transformed that outwardly tragic event into Easter and 2000 years of hope and love.

When it doesn't intrude on Easter, April 25 is also St Mark's Day, celebrating the bleakest Gospel which originally ended with a stark vision of people traumatised by the empty tomb; "and they said nothing to anyone, for they were very afraid".

In the years that followed, someone clearly found the courage to speak and explain what else grew from that experience, the hope beyond despair which became Easter.


After the war, Australia was indomitably and justifiably proud of its military legacy. As CEW Bean, the Australian war correspondent and historian wrote:

"What these men did nothing can alter now … whatever of glory it contains, nothing can lessen. It rises, as it always will rise, above the mists of ages, a monument to great-hearted men; and for the nation, a possession for ever."

But people were not good at dealing with such loss, with mass trauma, or with survivor guilt.

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About the Author

David Cusworth is a Western Australian writer.

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