Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lest We Forget

Every year on April 25th ANZAC day is celebrated.  I wrote a bit about it last year, but will give a brief review.  ANZAC stands for Australian New Zealand Army Corps and this day commemorates the battle at Gallipoli.  Brian and I have tried to find a comparison that the US has and we can't quite come up with anything.  Mix the parades of July 4th with the remembrance of Veterans Day, and then mix in the specificity of the D-Day invasions, and that's the best we can do for comparison.  It is beautiful to see so many people come out to show respect for the men who fought so bravely in WWI, although they also remember servicemen from other wars and conflicts as well.

ANZAC Day commences with a dawn service.  As much as I would love to go, it's just not practical with two kids.  The one to see would be in Canberra - it must be stunning.  There is a War Memorial there that I hear is incredible.  Brian has been and is quick to second that sentiment.

Later on, there is a parade that goes down the main street of Nelson Bay and ends at the cenotaph for a brief service of remembrance.  Schools are invited to participate in the march.  Last year we took the boys to watch, but weren't sure if they should participate, as we are American.  Several people - including RAAFies - encouraged us that it would be fine, as we are allies and showing our support for the armed forces of Australia.  Will very much wanted to march, so we let him.  He has incredible respect for the RAAFies (nickname for the men and women in the Royal Australian Air Force) and has many friends with parents in the RAAF.  Will was also very proud to know of family that had fought in WWI.

Children are able to wear the medals that family members have received on their right breast.  We saw many family pictures taken with the parents or grandparents in uniform with medals and the children with medals as well.  Pretty nifty pictures, I think.

We dropped Will off at the start of the parade and made sure he knew several people before we took off to find our spot on the parade route.  Of course he was completely comfortable immediately.  I stopped to ask one of our RAAFie friends if it was ok for Will wear a RAAF pin on his jumper.  Brian has a few pins - one is the "logo" for the RAAF and the other is the more informal logo of the flying Kangaroo, which I particularly love.  This is the symbol that appears on their fighter jets.  We were assured that it was fine for Will to wear, so off we went.

I love the kids in their winter uniforms

You may notice in the above picture that the gentleman marching next to Will has something green sticking out of his pocket.  That is Will's head of junior school, Mr. Allen, and he is sporting a sprig of rosemary, one of the traditional symbols of ANZAC Day.  It is a symbol for two reasons.  Firstly, rosemary has been used as a symbol of remembrance in many legends and folklore.  Secondly, it is found growing wild on the peninsula of Gallipoli.

Those dimples continue to slay me - plus you can see his RAAF pin

The ceremony is always lovely at the park.  There are a few speeches and hymns, along with a reading of The Ode (I'll get to that in a moment) and a bugler playing The Last Post, then a moment of silence, and the bugler playing Reveille and Rouse.  I love the hymns - Abide With Me is one of my favorites, and you can't beat anything that has the melody of Eternal Father, Strong to Save.

Nathan with the program for the service

We were able to stand with several of our friends until the end of the service, where we picked up Will.  I took a quick picture of him at the cenotaph, then we were on our way home for a bit until we headed to our friend's house for an ANZAC Day party.

Why we went to the party depended upon if you were a boy or a girl.  The girls hung out with our lovely hostess Laura to ooh and ahh over her new Thermomix.  Look it up - it's pretty impressive and made some lovely food.  The boys have challenged me to make a better custard than Laura did!  Basically, we had a very long afternoon tea - which I highly recommend.

The boys hung out with Josh to watch the traditional ANZAC Day footy game between Essendon and Collingwood.  Essendon won - which is good because that's who our hosts support.  Go the mighty Bombers!

All in all, it was a great day.  We really appreciate being able to participate in cultural moments like this.

I will leave you with The Ode:

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.
Response:  We will remember them.
Lest we forget.
Response:  Lest we forget.

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