It’s been a long time (too long) since I’ve been to an ANZAC service. I’ve been wanting to go each year for as long as I can remember. Now that the kids are 6 and 5, I felt this was the year. They have been learning about it at school. (We talk about it at home, but sometimes no matter what Mummy or Daddy say, unless the teachers say it too, it just doesn’t seem to register as being important.) So when they came home with their red poppies yesterday afternoon, I asked if they wanted to go along to a march that their school was participating in. The teachers must have done a good job of talking it up, as they were both very keen. Even after the warnings that we’d have to wake up early (this actually excited them!).
So we did just that, we woke up early (6:15 is early for them) and left the house by 7:15, ready for the march to begin at 8. At first, my son was a little overwhelmed by all the people and wasn’t quite sure he wanted to participate. But then he found a friend and suddenly it seemed I was just getting in the way.
The march was only quite short, but certainly long enough for little legs with short attention spans.
The ceremony at the other end unfortunately, wasn’t as short, and it was hot to boot. With about 10 minutes to go the kids finally came over to me and begged to go home. I was so proud they had lasted so long. It was hot, and even I was tired after getting up early too. But I could appreciate what was happening, and they were struggling. They were expecting to see soldiers. And at 6 and 6, they couldn’t comprehend that it wasn’t just about soldiers in their camouflage.
It was a lovely service, and it really hit home. There were so many wreaths. So many uniforms. So many groups represented and in attendance. And I have to admit, there were a couple of times I just felt so overwhelmed by the stories and emotions, and I welled up. How blessed are we who have never had to fight, as others have done it for us? How beautiful are those beings that served, and still do, for our amazing country? For freedom, for love, for equality, for truth and justice.
Two thirds of the Australian and New Zealand troops who fought in Gallipoli lost their lives. Two thirds. And every one of them will be remembered, honoured, respected and thanked. Forever.
We will be back next year, and the next, and the next… and eventually my children will feel what I felt today. Humbled. Proud. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of emotions. Mine, and others.
For my grandfathers, and all other men and women who have served for us…
Lest we forget.