Now that we've all had a few days to reflect, roll up our "Gallipoli" branded swags and put our golden syrup away for another 12 months, I feel it has to be said: Australia, you're doing Anzac Day wrong.

It used to be that people recognised Anzac Day for what it is: a solemn, funereal occasion to remember the hundreds of thousands of Australian and New Zealand lives sacrificed in war. A day to think about what war is, and what it does to nations, to families, to entire generations. A day to reflect on the horrors of humanity, and vow to never forget.

Now it seems, for many, it's just another public holiday to drape an Aussie flag over your shoulders and sink a few beers with mates.

If there's anything that indicates the growing disconnect with what is meant to be a sad day of remembrance, it was the slew of tweets and Facebook posts exclaiming "happy Anzac Day!", usually expressed in a hashtag alongside others like #publicholiday #dayoff #friends #woohoo.

Happy thousands of Australians massacred on the beaches in Turkey day, everyone! Raise your stubbie!

Then there were the smiling #AnzacDay selfies of people laughing with mates, drinking beer, posing next to plates of biscuits.

All catalogued on the gut-churning website "Anzac Day Selfies", many of the hashtagged photos have nothing to do with Anzac Day at all, simply showing off the photographer's new hairdo, or make up, or dawn yoga pose.

I'm not one of those anti-social-media grinches who thinks selfies represent the downfall of society, but honestly, posing for a smiley selfie on Anzac Day is like fronting up at a funeral with a beer-a-colada and taking a happy snap in front of the corpse. (And incidentally, people do that too - check out the "Selfies at Funerals" website and cringe).

Hearteningly it seems I'm not the only one revolted by this trend, as that website made the rounds of social media this week, attracting universal derision.

One of the most scorned photos shows three blonde 20-somethings all beaming at the camera with the caption "Anzac celebrations!", complete with a love heart emoji and the misspelled hashtag #LeastWeForget.

"Less we forget" is another common caption for these Anzac idiots, so quick to show their misguided pride that they forget how to spell. Ironic.

More egregious though, to my mind, is the rise of Anzac themed merchandise like T shirts, beanies, hoodies and even home wares. Last year Target was selling Anzac themed picnic rugs and cushions, as well as an "Anzac Spirit" stubbie holder to raise funds for Camp Gallipoli, which incidentally is now being investigated for alleged financial impropriety.

What are you supposed to do when you sit on your Anzac picnic rug with your Anzac stubbie holder? Think of the actual Anzacs choking on their hard tack in the mud in the Somme? Pass the pate.

Yes, the "Anzac" name can only be used under special government license, but that doesn't stop companies from churning out related crap with "Gallipoli" or red poppies on it. Just do an internet search and you'll find it; and people are buying it up, sending their dollars to factories in Shenzhen so they can wear a patriotic polyester shirt to show how "less" they forget.

With all this Anzac-vertising we're in danger of Anzac Day turning into a red, white and blue stamped jingoistic circus, with everyone trying to outdo each other for how patriotic they are.

Meanwhile, numbers were down at both the Gallipoli and Villers-Bretonneux ceremonies this year because of fears of a terrorist attack. As the world continues to send troops to die fighting ISIS, that's perhaps our most poignant reminder yet of what Anzac Day is really all about.


First published in The Advertiser on April 30, 2016. CLICK HERE to view the original article.