Yesterday was ANZAC, Australian & New Zealand Army Corps, Day in Australia and New Zealand. It is a national public holiday to remember the ANZACs who have served in battle for Australia or New Zealand. "Lest We Forget" is it's immortal slogan. Typically the day remembers the ill fated landing of ANZAC forces at Gallipoli, Turkey during World War I (or The Great War as they called it back then), but it is also a day for ANZAC WWII, Korean, Vietnam soldiers as well our current soldiers in Iraq, Afganistan and various other peace/humanitarian forces around the world.
My day started at 4:15am as I got up in preparation for the ANZAC Day Dawn Service, held at the Melbourne Shrine of Rememberance, my 2nd Dawn Service in as many years. I picked up a friend at 5am and we proceeded into the city. I must say, it is a marvelous site to see so many people turning out for the Dawn Service – 30,000 were the media estimates and it sure felt like there were that many. The older generation was there, as to be expected, but it was the younger (my age and younger) that were out in force yesterday. Young lads, young girls, families with babies, gray haired bikies, couples, grandparents – all were there.
A moving preservice tribute was read and then the actual Dawn Service started. Was very touching as a young year 12 (I think) student described her trip to the fields of the Western Front and mentioned a comment a local made to her as she was leaving. "Thank-you for having us", she had said and this old gentleman had replied, "No. Thank-you for your country's sacrifice, we would not be here today without you." There were a few sniffles in the crowd.
After the service had finished, around 6:30am, I waited 45 minutes in line as the crowd shuffled through the actual Shrine and laid down poppies. It was a terribly cold morning, but well worth it. Headed back home before coming back into the city to watch Essendon vs Collingwood in the ANZAC Day Match (Australian Rules footy). 91,000 screaming fans, the majority of whom seemed to be Collingwood fans, were not disappointed as it was a close game all day til the final five minutes when Collingwood broke away to eventually win by 17 points. Was not a happy ending for me, I barrack for Essendon, but was still a great ending to a great day.
I have a few photos that I took of this years Dawn Service, as well as lasts years, that I'll be posting on my Pbase account shortly.