I am finding Dr Nelson has inadvertently stumbled on something here. According to the above link to First World War.com, and the Oxford Companion to Australian Military History (1995), Simpson, who jumped ship at Newcastle NSW in 1910 and joined the AIF in 1914 hoping to be sent back to England, was a raging Red, a radical socialist.
Daily Archives: August 26, 2005
The editorial in today’s Daily Telegraph.
FEDERAL Education Minister Brendan Nelson’s suggestion that the story of John Simpson Kirkpatrick – who became known as “the Man with the Donkey” for his heroic rescue work at Gallipoli – was emblematic of Australian values and worthy of being told in Islamic schools, gave rise yesterday to the usual and predictably snide commentary.
Smug commentators motivated by a desire to attack Dr Nelson were quick to point out that Simpson was in fact British, that he had deserted from the merchant navy, and that he had probably enlisted because he thought it might be a way to get back to England.
Well, touche to Dr Nelson’s learned critics. It’s just a pity they seem so comprehensively to have missed the point – which is that Simpson’s example of courage and bravery, and even his casual disregard for pompous authority [like Brendan?], are very much representative of the some of the values we Australians admire and aspire to. Simpson – who was killed four weeks after he landed at Gallipoli – was proudly independent; he knew about mateship; he knew about sacrifice and selflessness. We admired his example in 1915, we we admire it to this day.
So it’s a good story for school children – not just Islamic school children, but all of them. It’s a story which encapsulates some of our most important values – standing up for our friends, courage, independence of spirit, resourcefulness – and it’s a part of the broader story of our development as a nation. It’s a story of which we should all have some knowledge.
Add to Simpson, stories of the likes of Weary Dunlop, and Sir Roden Cutler VC, and Howard Florey; women such as Nancy Bird Walton and Jessie Street – and even our sporting greats such as the Bradmans and the Freemans. They’re our stories of the people who stand for Australia, for what it means to be Australian.
So that our national identity is understood, so that our values may thrive, those stories should be kept alive. And the best way to do that is to give them to all our children.