On the eve of one of our nation’s most significant days, a retired serviceman wants Australia to get it right.
Shaun Buckney, from Brisbane, is the son of a soldier, his father having served in the Australian military for 32 years including time at Vietnam.
Shaun enlisted in the army after he left school, he served for 15 years and did a tour of East Timor with the 26th Transport Squadron in 1999.
Shaun, now 50, is fed up with what he says is the media’s constant publishing of misinformation about the Anzacs and Anzac Day.
“I’ve always been frustrated at the misinformation and the way people speak about such a sacred day to myself and all other military services personnel. Anzac Day is a big day for us and remembrance and when I hear wrong terminology, you sit and you watch people’s faces cringe when it happens you know that person is service personnel.”
In an April 22 post on his personal Facebook page, Shaun sounded off, outlining what he called “an education” for the Australian media on Anzac Day.
“I sat down outside over a couple of cups of coffee and reflected on the 16-odd years since I’ve been out of the military, generally the things that piss me off that you hear in the media.”
“I started to jot down the things that were important to me from a soldier’s perspective and also incorporate all the three services, Army, Air Force and Navy.”
“I thought the most about the things that are said incorrectly the most often, things like our medals and citations. Our medals aren’t badges, you can’t go buy them at the shop, our citations aren’t pins.
“That’s probably the biggest one that gets under the skin of a lot of service personnel and ex-service personnel is we don’t win these bloody things. It’s not a chook raffle. We’ve earned these things through our duty and through our actions.”
Shaun’s post went viral with over 5,300 shares on his post alone not to mention the thousands more made on his posts to other pages like Sunrise and The Today Show.
What has it been like to get this reaction?
“Total disbelief, extremely humbling, I put it on my wall as a public post knowing that a lot of my Facebook friends are military or ex-military that I know. I made it public so people could share it around, and in all honesty I was expecting 50-100 shares. My daughter checked it this morning and told me it had over 4000, so it’s been extremely humbling.”
“The biggest pat on the back has been that out of all the comments I’ve been able to keep track of that only a few have been negative comments, a lot of ex soldiers, sailors and airmen have been saying it’s about time the media and people that write start to use the correct terminology.”
Shaun realises that in 2017, people like his grandchildren get their information from so many different places that it can be hard to spread incorrect information even accidentally.
“Talking to to my grandkids who live with me, they’re not even taught as much about Anzac Day anymore at school. So they rely on what they hear and see on TV and online.”
“It’s like a habit, it’s extremely hard to break. If you’re informed and believe something that’s incorrect and believe it for 10-15 years and then you’re presented with the correct information, it can be very hard to revert to the new information and discard the old.”
How will Shaun be spending Anzac Day?
“I’ll be heading to the dawn service at the local RSL near where I live and I’m guessing I’ll be spending the rest of the day at home, watching the march on TV. Anything other than that is dependant on how I feel.”
And what does Shaun hope comes from this post getting so much attention?
“If anything comes out of this I hope that someone sees this and says ‘oh shit, I’ve been saying the wrong thing for the last half-dozen years and rectifies it. If that was to happen to one person out there, fantastic.”
Shaun’s all-important 16-point list
You can see Shaun’s original Facebook post below.
1. We commemorate ANZAC Day, not celebrate it. It's not a bloody party.
2. Tuesday 25 April 2017 marks the 102nd anniversary of the landing of ANZAC Soldiers, Sailors, Medical personnel and animals on Gallipoli.
3. Sailors rowed Soldiers ashore during the Gallipoli landings, under heavy fire, without outboards motors. The little boats they used are called 'lighters'.
4. It's a bugle, not a trumpet, and the Last Post is sounded, not played. It's not a bloody dance tune.
5. Not every serviceman/woman was a 'soldier'. Some were Sailors, Airmen and Nursing Sisters. Please take the time to ascertain what Service they served in, and use the correct terminology. It means a lot them/us!!!
6. No I am not wearing my father’s medals, they are mine. I earned them during Active Service while you were enjoying all the comforts that I was dreaming of.
7. They're medals, not badges. They're citations, not pins.
8. Please don't try to draw comparisons between civilians and war veterans, I've never seen a civilian perform acts of heroism whilst under fire to protect their fellow service personnel, flag and Country.
9. Medals, ribbons and Unit Citations are EARNED, not WON. It's not a bloody chook raffle. They are awarded to the recipient, not given to them.
10. The RED POPPY symbolises peace, death and sleep of the fallen servicemen/woman. While the PURPLE Poppy represents remembrance of the animal victims of war. Learn the difference. Traditionally, Rosemary is worn on ANZAC Day; however, the Poppy has become popular through the generations and is widely worn on both ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day Services.
11. 'Lest We Forget' isn't a throwaway line, it actually has meaning: it's an expression of remembrance, par excellence. It has dignified origins, a rich history.
12. Yes, I am allowed to wear my 'Return From Active Service' badge on any day of the year that I choose to wear it.
13. Australian and New Zealand soldiers didn't retreat from Gallipoli, they withdrew.
14. It doesn't matter which side you wear your Poppy on, as long as it's worn with pride.
15. Medal recipients wear their medals on the left side of their chest covering their heart, family members/descendants wear the medals on the right.
16. The 'Ode' comes from the poem "For the Fallen", which was written by Laurence Binyon. The verse, which is commonly known as 'The Ode Of Rememberance', is as follows:
"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."
Lest We Forget
Here endeth the lesson.