ANZAC Day 2018

Rose & Ernie - Easter 1941 Melbourne

My Mum and Dad in Melbourne.  Easter 1941

The alarm wakes us at 4.30am. It’s very dark and the temptation to stay in our cosy bed is very strong but this morning was too important. Out of bed, put the kettle on for a quick cuppa, stoke the wood stove fire to keep it going, dress in warm layers and beanie and head out the door. The sky is dark but clear with brilliant stars as we head down to the Kalamunda War Memorial for the ANZAC Day Dawn Service. Our way is lit by the headlights of cars heading in the same direction. Kookaburras and magpies are just starting their early morning calls in the crisp, clear air. Another big gathering in the hushed darkness. Each year the gathering gets bigger and bigger and the number of younger people attending is increasing. We’re told the bugler has had an accident but is OK, which is good to hear, and that Plan B will be put in place. Walliston Primary School choir sing a moving song, The Last Anzac, an address on the battle at Villers Bretonneux on this particular day 100 years ago, 25 April 1918, a lone piper playing as wreaths are laid and then the Last Post … played hauntingly on a violin! Two minutes silent reflection, Reveillie, the Australian National Anthem sung by Naomi Scott (who used to be in my choir) and supported by all present, the New Zealand National Anthem sung in Maori and English by the Walliston choir and also by young people standing near me. Through it all, the sky has slowly lightened around us and the stars fade away. In front of us, to the west, the sky is washed in soft blue and pink. Despite the large crowd, voices are still hushed as people either head towards the Agricultural Hall for the RSL-provided gunfire breakfast or, like us, start for home either on foot or by car or motorbike. I think of my Dad and Mum and mention to Gordon that I should get Dad’s medals out of our safe deposit and wear them next year. I think of Mike and Claire and wonder where they are and whether they’re representing the RAAF at services near their Williamstown base. I’m reminded of the ANZAC Day services I participated in as a member of the John Curtin High School choir, both on the Esplanade in Perth and also at the Fremantle War Memorial, and of my time working at the RSL Headquarters from 1963 to 1967. Memories.

They shall grow not old
As we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning

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