Here’s the post I wrote in 2015 on Anzac Day. How things have changed this year! I watched the Dawn Service on my TV as I streamed the ceremony. To my friends then and now, we stand in solidarity with you on this day of remembrance.
On the occasion of Anzac Day 2015, I wanted to reblog this post from 2011. To all my Aussie mates, I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I was with the dawn service in Bendigo. I don’t think we have anything like that here in Ottawa. It was simply haunting, as are the words of Ataturk on the plaque we photographed during our 2009 tour of Gallipoli, Turkey.
“To those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now living on the soil of a friendly country. Therefore, rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now living in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.” Ataturk 1934
We had the best intentions. We went to bed at 8:30pm and set the alarm for 2am. Unfortunately, my stomach had different ideas and kept me awake the whole night. So at 2am, having had maybe 10 minutes of sleep, I agreed with Leon that going to the local Anzac dawn service would be more reasonable.
We got to the city core in time to see the crowds gather and line the streets of the procession. It was a simple service. First the pipes and drums arrived leading the way for the veterans. In Australia, people who have ancestors who have served are allowed to wear their medals and march in the procession as well. The 2 horsemen from the Australia Light Horse closed up the ranks as they proceeded from the Soldiers Memorial to the Cenotaph. After a brief ceremony, we walked towards the Soldiers Memorial where we were offered a sausage on bread and a coffee with a shot of rum. Pretty hardy breakfast at 7 in the morning! I did not partake. However, I did stop and speak to the nice rider and his horse.
After that, it was back to bed for me to recapture some of the lost zeds.
There are a great number of shows on TV capturing the Anzac services in Melbourne and even one that is broadcasting live from Gallipoli, Turkey. I am glad we visited the Soldiers Memorial in that country on our visit 2 yrs ago. We were very touched by the tribute written by the Turks to the Anzacs.
So, all in all, Anzac Day is a very solemn affair. Many Anzac troops died in WW1 and they are honored in this way each year. I can’t think of any similar occasion in Canada where we rise before dawn to remember our servicemen and servicewomen.
It was very different this year. We joined our neighbours at 6am on the front drive with candles and observed a minute’s silence.
I saw a few pictures from my colleagues in Australia who did that. Lovely idea.
Thank you for this tribute, Catherine. It is quite a different take on ANZAC day this year. None of us allowed to gather in large groups for processions and services. So, we came out, at dawn, with candles and phones for live streaming and lined up in our driveways. Kids learned the last post on their instruments, the ode was said, the reveille after the eerie minute’s silence. There was no talking or acknowledgement of each other. It is a solemn occasion after all. We were all connected in our way.
The officials are still laying wreaths in Canberra and at other capital cities throughout Australia but as for me, donning my sprig of rosemary for remembrance and munching on an ANZAC biscuit with a cup of strong billy tea for breakfast, I am super glad I got out of bed at 5.30am and made the effort. After all many did in another land – for us – and the freedom we enjoy at their sacrifice will never be forgotten.
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
We will remember them.
LEST WE FORGET.
I noticed the rosemary. What is the significance of it?