Today was ANZAC Day
This is a day that Australia and New Zealand commemorate the landing of our forces on the shores of Gallipoli, eight months into World War One, in 1915. This was one of the darkest periods in the war with the loss of life catastrophic. Out of it came the ANZAC Legend. The legacy of bravery, courage and mateship. Qualities so symbolic of our way of life, even to this day.
I don’t want to write a big post about ANZAC Day though. If you want to know what it is all about then Google it.
ANZAC Day for me is about honoring my Grampa, my Gran and her first fiancé Len, who was British but that’s okay.
ANZAC Day for me is about the memories I have as a child. Every year mum would take my sisters and I down to the Main Street. We would stand on the road side and watch the ANZAC Day parade. All our soldiers from all of the wars would march with pride down that street. I remember The Light Horsemen riding past, the sound of the horses snorting, the swishing of their tails and the clappity clap of their hooves on the road ringing in my ears. I remember when Granny and Grampa came into view, that I would fill with pride and yet at such a tender age I just did not understand what that pride was for. I did not really understand any of this.
I remember joining Brownie Guides at age ten and having to partake in the march and of feeling bummed out I had to walk down the main street. I remember after that, not caring. You see the ANZAC spirit died off for a bit, thankfully in recent years it has come back with a vengeance and especially in the younger generations. Thank goodness.
These days I feel so very honored by our day. It has been years since I have attended a dawn service. Mornings not really being my thing, and then having small children…and the excuses go on, but that doesn’t take away how meaningful ANZAC Day is to me.
Last year I badly wanted to go but we were new here and finding our way around was difficult, so we missed it. I cried as I watched some commemorative show on Australia Plus TV. I think I felt so far from home, that I needed that connection.
This year we went. This morning I woke up 3.30am and got the children up at four. We bundled in the car and headed out into the darkness to find Libingan ng mga Bayani. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Taguig.
We parked roadside in this military cemetery. Small white crosses sat on the fields. Hundreds of them, in neat rows creating lovely patterns. The sky was dark and the crosses seemed to glow somehow. I took this photo you see here and I look at it and feel like those crosses in the background are the spirits of the troops long passed. It feels eerie to me.
As we walked to the area where the ceremony would be I started to feel emotional. This day does it to me every year. I feel so overcome by the enormity of the loss, of the bravery. I imagine myself in their shoes and I cower in fear, in shame that I just don’t know that I could do what they did, what they still do today.
I looked up into the trees as the sunrise started to break and
the sunlight filtered through the leaves, waking the birds who started to sing to their new morning. The humidity and heat hung heavy in the air as we used the programs to fan ourselves. BB using the commemorative fan I picked up at the entrance. At the end The Last Post plays and it brings me to my knees. If ever there was a piece of music that spoke to the heart of a theme, this is the one. This is the one.
In the end we head home in relative silence. The children coped so well. I held FB on my lap, stroking her hair, and had my arm around BB as he slowly fell back to sleep. I silently thanked them for their patience and promised them that when they are old enough, not only will they understand the ANZAC Legacy, they will respect and honour it.
Lest we forget.