Wednesday, April 25, 2007

When No-One remembered ANZAC day...

Not that long ago I was one of the handful of people who went each year to remember the fallen on ANZAC day. There would be the Returned Servicemen marching down the quiet street to the Robe war memorial and a group of ten if that, people waiting for them to arrive and the commemoration service to begin! That was in 1974-76.

Today I was out working, delivering the newspapers and noticed the large number of vehicles driving into and around the town on their way to Victoria Street from 6.00am to gather for the 6.45am march to the memorial of the fallen in two world wars and following conflicts Australian's have served in.

Fortunately I only have one pass down Victoria Street and that is early in the newspaper delivery round at 6.15am. By then the street was already filled with cars parked almost the entire length from the RSL to the Memorial on both sides, at least a kilometre! And there were people lining the footpaths to watch the returned service men and women march past and follow behind them.

My memory went back to the 1970's when that street was so empty I used to walk alongside the service men to the memorial. Except for one or two war widows I'd notice. One was an occaisional teacher at my school and she used to wait on the last street corner before the memorial then she would follow for the service.

As the men got to her corner there was a subtle straightening of the backs and the steps were all in time and the solemnity of ANZAC DAY was observed in it's spirit of remembrance.

Today I wondered if some of those men who have been doing that ANZAC DAY march over the past 30 plus years had any thought of the many years they marched along an empty street with no company except their fellow marchers and the memory of the fallen? Yet today, they marched down the same country town street filled with people to follow them to the service to commemorate the fallen.

William Charles Henry Dening; Killed in Action - World War I


Thankyou for your time and attention, Geoff


Kaufman said...

As a rather dashing man who has adopted Australia as his own, I am constantly at odds with my thoughts on what it means to serve one's country. Personally, I wouldn't ever do it. The thought of doing anything on behalf of any government AND potentially killing other human beings AND potentially being traumatised for the rest of my life AND potentially being a bitter and resentful f*#ker to boot equates to too many strikes in my books. However, having said that, I'm greatful beyond my limited vocabulary to those who have chosen defense forces as a career.

I think over the years the part the media has played in raising awareness of what the ANZACS did (are doing?) has had a positive effect on many an Australian's psyche.

geoff said...

Very true mate, AND it is from the knowledge we have been taught about the reality of war from our history that gives us the ability to say NO to being in a war.

AND that is the greatest way of acknowledging LEST WE FORGET when the sun rises and sets on every day of the year.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

My grandad fought Rommel in North Africa, and whenever Rememberence Day came around (11/11) he could never bring himself to go, so bad were his memories.

I used to attend frequently when I was a member of the Scouts, and later with the Air Training Corps.

I haven't been for many years, but I never forget.

The bombs and guns and bloodshed on TV are a constant reminder.

geoff said...

It is good to see that instead of chest beating patriotism, Australians have a respectful awareness. That strikes me as the strength of ANZAC day.