Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Anzac Day

The alarm went off at 4:15 this morning.  I rolled over, trying not to disturb the Little Big Fella too much yet, and turned it off.  I lay there for about 10 minutes, trying to decide if I would actually get up or not.  I'd never done this before!  When I realised I was actually awake and would probably fall asleep just as the Little Big Fella started to wake, I decided I would get up and go to the Anzac Day dawn service.

For those of you who are reading from other countries, Anzac Day is one of Australia's two major days of remembrance of those who have fought and fallen in wars since World War I.  It is commemorated on April 25th, which was the first day of fighting at Gallipoli, during World War I.  Gallipoli was a big deal for us Australian and New Zealanders because it was our first major military action.   And so many died!

You can read more about it on Wikipedia, or do a Google search :-)

After waking myself properly and getting ready, I woke the Little Big Fella.  Never done that before either!  He was brilliant!  He woke up pretty well and was excited to be going in the car in the dark.

Once we made it to the memorial site we stood around with maybe 300-ish people.  I was amazed by how quiet everyone was!  It was solemn but not morbid, and definitely respectful.

After a while we heard the distant sound of drums and then the bagpipes.  It grew louder and then we saw the parade of veterans.  I have to say, at this time I got quite teary, which completely surprised me.  It's quite possible that tiredness had a bit to do with it, but I also felt the gravity of the march and imagined how painful it would have been for those in the first marches, 97 years ago.

The service itself was actually quite short.  The Little Big Fella said afterwards that it was fun, but he'd wanted to "go home" several times through the service :-)

We drove home along the beach and watched the sun rise.

Anzac Day is seen as a sacred day by many Australians, which for a somewhat disrespectful country is pretty impressive.  I've never really had much to do with the commemorations of war and was a bit cynical about the whole thing I guess.  We say "we commemorate those who fought and died so that we could be free" but I guess it's always just seemed like something we say because we've been taught to say it.  I think I understand the intent behind the phrase a little better today.  Perhaps it is a little more internalised for me.

War is crap but the remembrance of those who fought (and still fight), and the reasons they did (and do) so is important.  And I think I'd like to continue to impress that on my son.  I think we'll also need to have a family history lesson with Grandad next time we're in Melbourne - he has my grandfather's war medals and such and there are some amazing stories that I'd like to have passed down to the next generation.  I guess that's part of the point of days like Anzac Day too.

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