Australians in general are not the most patriotic of people. But when it comes to ANZAC day, patriotism is shown in mass numbers with silent force.
Rising way before dawn, in my case 3am because sleeping seemed unnecessary in the midst of my frenzied creative buzz; I was ready to meet my friend by 5am to set out for the Dawn Service. It was the 100th year commemoration ceremony so a pertinent reason to make more effort to get to Kings Park for the dawn service.
As hundreds of people streamed into the park quietly in the dark, I felt proud to be Australian and proud to be part of this annual ritual. Most people never wake before dawn, although recently I have really enjoyed the quietly contemplative and productive pre-dawn start to the day.
Brisk and fresh, politely expresses the cold wind whisking through the tops of trees and up my goose pimpled skin. I admired the sky as the colours evolved from dark yellow to light blue and formed into a brilliant pink, purple and crimson sunrise.
Hundred of people huddled together in their jackets, some wearing medals, glistening in colour and shine on their lapels. As we all stood their suffering in the cold, and as I became more and more uncomfortable standing still in one spot, I couldn't help but think of the extent of discomfort people had suffered in the war. In the trenches, in the cold, in the wet, wind, hungry, sad, hopeless conditions; we are so lucky now to live in our very privileged society, that our ancestors fought to maintain for us.
As the bugle echoed eerily into the gradually illuminate morning, I pulled my jumper around me and said a quiet pray of gratitude to everyone who had died in the war. I could feel the energy thicken around me and sense the spirits of fallen soldiers, even horses surrounding us in the atmosphere, drawn to this memorial. I could see the army green uniforms and feathery hats, and the strong muscular chestnut brown horses they rode upon. As tears rolled down my cheek I felt sad for their sacrifices.
It is good to come together and remember; and pay our respects to our ancestors. I have family who fought in the Second World War, and my thoughts drifted to my maternal Grandfather on this occasion. He was a sailor my Grandad Ron; Mum used to tell me the few stories she remembered. Ron found a monkey on one of his travels and took it on board with him. His prized pet was quite the story for the seamen and I am sure kept them all amused and enticed glints of happiness; the monkey gave a warm reprieve on a lonely sea. My Grandad was a broken man after the war, he died at 45, basically from drinking too much; like a lot of returned soldiers, facing their demons was an insurmountable challenge. War does terrible things to people and has ongoing repercussions for many generations. Glorification of war is not something to be advocated, but remembering and paying our respects to our men and women who served for our country for the greater good, they are who we stood for, quietly, with straight backs and glistening eyes.
I wanted to sing during the anthem, however we are encouraged to be quiet, it's kind of like a big funeral. I always feel unpatriotic when the anthem plays and we don't sing, I was raised to sing it every week at school and I still value belting out my out of tune voice to it. But it wasn't to be on this morning. A few people quietly hummed; so I joined in.
On cue, the sunrise was breath taking. The translucent sky of the full blown sunrise was a real treat and a fitting sign of gratitude for all the men and women who perished serving our country in the big mean First World War. The strong Ghost Gum trees stood impressive and proud along the street, symbolising the men and women who were so brave and courageous.
Home by 830am, and I was ready for a nap, a privilege I have; which can't be said for those who landed on the coast of Gallipoli that frightful morning of April 25, 1915. Bet they were weary and tired after such a long sea journey, adrenalin cursing through their veins of imminent death keeping them on full alert. How awful the fate they suffered. Lest we forget; we will remember them.
Love, Anita xx
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” – Martin Luther King