By: Jackson Saunders
Silo art was the focus of this year’s Anzac Day celebrations in the small country town of Devenish in the Sandhurst Diocese.
The artwork of an Australian light horse and a military nurse and combat medic is a visual tribute to the 50 young men and women from Devenish, who enlisted in military service in the First World War. Devenish is a town of about 200 people, which is situated about 20 kilometres east of Dookie, 63 km west of Wangaratta and 29 km north-west of Benalla.
Australian street artist, Cam Scale, last month completed the third steel silo artwork at the site of the Light horseman. The mural was unveiled at an official Anzac tribute day on Sunday, April 14. The Anzac service was led jointly by the Shepparton and Yarrawonga/ Mulwala RSL Clubs.
Scale’s silo artwork of the Light horseman follows artwork on a striking two-silo mural of a First World War nurse and a modern combat medic also in Devenish last year. As I visited the site of the silo artworks in the lead up to Anzac Day this year, I was in awe and reverence of what I saw. Each year as I reflect on Anzac Day I am filled with a sense of deep respect and admiration for those who have served Australia in military or peacekeeping operations. At the same time, however, I struggle to understand the complexities and tragedies of war. How is it that the human race has been so violent to each other in times of war?
An Anzac Day reflection by my spiritual director, Fr Patrick O’Sullivan SJ, I have found helpful as I sit with this question. In his book I Call You Friends: Friendship with Jesus in Daily Life, Fr Patrick explains that “on Anzac Day we glorify sacrifice, not war; we remember those who gave their lives for what they believed in.”
In his short reflection, Fr Patrick adds that in remembering Gallipoli “people who were once our enemies are now our friends. The bonds between our two countries are very deep, based on reverence for the dead and respect for the living. A wonderful example of the Spirit of Jesus taking over.”
Fr Patrick argues that a move towards patriotism has encouraged virtue, gratitude, love for our country and all people, whereas nationalism, he explains, has often promoted “our policies and self-interest at the expense of other peoples.”
“So, it is important to pray that the Spirit of Jesus will turn our hearts, and the hearts of our leaders, from nationalism to patriotism, so that Jesus can truly say to us, ‘I was stranger, and you took me in,” Fr Patrick concludes.
Photos: Jackson Saunders