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Monday, April 10, 2006

ANZAC Day: 1@1 (Discussion Document)

Respect, solidarity, observance.


1 minute of silence at 1pm

The eerie wail of sirens, evoking war-time memories, echoing our link with the past and joining the nation in a brief moment of collective contemplation. A reverberating spectre on a chill autumn afternoon. A formal end to the ANZAC commemorations.

At 1pm on ANZAC Day sirens will sound continuously for one minute to mark the end of the commemoration period of the various morning services conducted throughout the country. This will be an opportunity for those who were unable to attend a dawn or morning service to participate in a commemoration activity by observing one minute of personal silence for reflection and contemplation while the sirens are sounding.

Such a co-ordinated event will show solidarity with veterans and respect for the fallen in a unique and nation-wide moment that will become a regular fixture for the country. The television and radio broadcasters should also participate in this event.

The transition from the realm of the dead to that of the living.

Just as the playing of the "Last Post" or conch shell blast signifies the beginning of the commemoration period and the tapu nature of the services that follow, so the 1pm siren will signify the end of the day's honoring of the dead and the lifting of the tapu - back to the noa (or open/free) part of the day - where the sombre ceremonies of the morning make way for the honoring of the living and marking the beginning of enjoyment and celebration of the veterans, their families and the community as a whole.

Military installations, civil defence units, fire brigades, prisons, race courses, museums, trains, ships, businesses, clubs, organisations and individuals that have sirens (or horns etc.) capable of a continuous and consistent blast are asked to sound their sirens for one minute commencing at exactly 1pm. Conch shells and other instruments may also be suitable. National Radio's time pips are considered the correct time and may be the best practical way of ensuring accurate co-ordination.

Commercial participation

Recordings of a siren or a radio broadcast of them could be played through speakers in public areas if no siren is available. This may be suitable in shopping malls, supermarkets, large retailers, casinos, airports and other buildings and areas that have a public address system. This should be preceeded by instructions on the nature of the event and expectations of a minute's silence.

As 1pm is legally the end of observance - an "extra" minute shows a token of respect and an act of involvement of businesses towards the commemoration of ANZAC Day.

Although this idea is a private initiative that is very basic in nature it may nevertheless be appropriate that the Department for Internal Affairs or some other competent government department in co-operation with the RSA and other organisations issue some guidelines for their preferred method of observance for this event.

Initial reactions and concerns

To start with many people may not understand what is occuring or why and may not recognise the solemnity of the event - others indeed may be alarmed or mistake it for a fire signal or a civil defence emergency. Some may well be mistaken as to what they have witnessed - the following year they will be participants.

There may be some concern that sirens trigger feelings or memories of terror and fear and that the Fire Service and other emergency services will be resistant. As a regular feature of ANZAC Day however it will be unlikely (after the first year) that this will be the case. Many other countries use sirens in a similar way with no adverse affects.

Additional reasons

As a way of highlighting the inadequacy of our civil defence warning system the absense of an ability to signal a warning via sirens will hopefully spur the local authorities into making the necessary investment into a warning system. The Mayor of Waitakere City has recently commented on this.

As the Fire Servce recommends an annual test of smoke detectors at the change of daylight savings time so everyone's siren equipment could be tested for one minute on ANZAC Day.

Alternative scenario

A 10 sec blast immediately before 1pm signalling a period of 1 minute silence, followed by another 10 sec blast to signal the end of the minute's silence.

Statutory recognition of the 1pm end of ANZAC Day observance:

s.3. Observance of Anzac Day—
(2) Where Anzac Day does not fall on a Sunday, it shall be observed up to one o'clock in the afternoon as if it were a Sunday, and after that hour on that day such activities shall be permitted as may lawfully take place after noon on a Saturday...

s.172. Restricted hours of operation—
(1) A holder of a casino licence must not conduct casino gambling on Christmas Day, Good Friday, or on Anzac Day between the hours of 3 am and 1 pm...

s. 44. No racing on certain days—
A betting licence must not be issued for races on Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, Good Friday, or before 1 pm on Anzac Day...

s.14. Conditions of on-licences—
(2) It is a condition of every on-licence granted in respect of a hotel or tavern that no liquor is to be sold or supplied on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, or before 1 pm on Anzac Day to any person other than—...

s.37. Conditions of off-licences—
(1) It is a condition of every off-licence that no liquor is to be sold or delivered on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, or before 1 pm on Anzac Day...

s.3. Shops to be closed on Anzac Day morning, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Christmas Day—
(1) Subject to sections 4 and 4A of this Act, every shop shall remain closed—
(a) Before 1 pm on Anzac Day; and...

This is a dicussion document.
After discussion (in the comments section) of the merits/practicalities of the proposal I may then re-write it and circulate it to the RSA for their consideration.


At 10/4/06 5:10 pm, Blogger asdfhskldjhkjhsdfsdfsdf said...

I generally like the concept. My concern is that if it is extended to non-official sound-making devices, such as fire alarms, musicians' synthesized sounds or car horns, the minute could quickly become a generally obnoxious, discomfort-inducing sound-fest.

Or it could become inappropriately fun: People might look forward to the chance to make as much loud, sustained noise as possible for one minute in the year - thus completely neglecting the original, sombre and respectful intent of the event.

At 11/4/06 9:57 am, Blogger Bomber said...

I had images of people blowing on kazoos (?) for a full minute as a stamina test myself - but yes - people may be tempted to toot their horn in their car - that would be the easiest thing to spontaneously occur. I don't so much mind that. It would be church bells or other noises that are not constant that would ruin it.

Realistically I think it could work. There aren't that many people out their who would seriously want to fuck up an ANZAC Day commemoration are there?

Oh, and if you read between the lines you may be able to work out that I feel guilty about not attending a morning service. For non-morning people/lazy/disabled etc. it is a passive event that everyone can "participate" in by sparing a minute to think about the meaning of the Day without having to turn up, in the cold and possibly rain, at 6am.

At 11/4/06 4:47 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And it invariably rains, and/or is cold. I preferred the marking the start and end of the minute idea you mentioned last Tim. Very sound (as it were)

At 12/4/06 8:37 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so it is a constant continuous sound, even if ["eerie" and not intermittent church bells ]you are looking for, thus inducing an emotional reaction,
yes it is a good idea
but i wouldn't like to hear car horns blasting though, that is more irritable than the sadness or fear,


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