We like to mark milestones and remember anniversaries. Some anniversaries celebrate a joyous moment in our lives, such as a wedding or birthday, but many seem to commemorate a tragedy. As the fourth anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires is upon us and the weather is once again stinking hot and we have once again had almost no rain, I wonder about the need to have public remembrance ceremonies and at what arbitrary point they are deemed to be unnecessary. Presumably the Ash Wednesday fires of 1983 were commemorated for some years after, but no longer.
Those of us that were involved in the events of Black Saturday will carry them with us until the day we die and need no reminder, especially when it is hot and the wind comes up. That never fails to elevate my heart rate and blood pressure. For those that were not involved it is probably just an abstract concept that happened to someone else, much like Anzac Day.
I suppose a day of public remembrance is meant to be cathartic, a day to remember the people that died and show they are not forgotten, as if the friends and relatives of the dead could ever forget them. For me it is anything but cathartic. All it does is open all the old wounds again and bring everything back to the forefront of my consciousness. We were lucky in that no one we knew died and we managed to save our house, so our losses were minor compared with many, but I do wonder if anything positive comes from these sorts of public remembrances. Does it aid the healing process or does it prolong it, especially the way the media likes to sensationalise everything? I would be more than happy to mark the day privately with my family, preferably in the snow somewhere far from here, but I would also never begrudge anyone their public ceremony if it might help them heal. I just wish I was not part of that public.
Dr. F. Bunny