remembering the Anzacs in Melbourne.
25.04.2009 - 25.04.2009
On April 25th Australia and New Zealand observes Anzac Day. In remembrance of those sons and daughters who have fallen in all conflicts. Foremost in our minds though, are the Anzacs, those who fell at Gallipoli, in Turkey. Over 8,000 Australian and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers died. For Australians and New Zealanders at home the 25th of April became the day on which they remember the sacrifice of those who died in war.
This year I found myself back in Melbourne for Anzac Day, whilst Jen remained in London. We each attended remembrance services. Myself, with Adam, at the Shrine in Melbourne and Jen on Whitehall in London.
I feel somewhat ashamed to say that this year was the first occasion I have attended the dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance. I would encourage all Victorians to make the trip at some stage. In the 1920s, after the First World War, returned soldiers sought the comradeship they felt in the quiet, peaceful moments before dawn. With a symbolic link to the dawn landing at Gallipoli, the dawn service became the common form of remembrance on Anzac day.
Dawn service at the shrine of remembrance
It is with a sombre national pride that we pause to reflect on the sacrifice of war. Strange indeed that from this most brutal theatre, spring stories which speak of honour, decency, courage and mateship almost lost in the modern era. Many of the young men who were shipped to Europe went through a commitment to our Commonwealth, many through a sense of adventure. Only to fall on the beaches, on the Western front, or in the fields of places like Villers-Bretonneux.
Jen and I, along with Adam and Meaghan, visited France and Belgium in 2007. We visited the town of Villers-Bretonneaux, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villers-Bretonneux the location of the Australian War Memorial in France. It is a sombre place that imbued us with a sense of both sadness and national pride.
I detest war. Nobody celebrates the loss of life in conflict and this is not a day of celebration. Anzac day gives our nations time to pause and reflect on the huge number of young people who lost there lives overseas. I remember when I was 20 years old. I felt grown up and invincible. In reality I was a kid, just starting out on my life beyond childhood. Think of the 18 and 19 year old soldiers who left in droves from the cities and rural communities, bound for the war in Europe. Swapping a school uniform for a military one. Kids, prevailed upon by the Commonwealth to commit themselves to war. They should have been at home in their communities, with thier families. Instead, they gave their lives in support of families in France and Belgium.
The Australian War Memorial
In Villers-Bretonneux there is a sign which reads 'Do not forget Australia'. The people of this town know the courage and sacrifice of Australia's sons. They have their bodies in the fields which stretch out from the town. They honour them in remembrance. On April 25th join these grateful families in saying
Lest we forget.
The eternal flame