April 2014


Australian War Memorial Dawn Service

The morning air is crisp, there is little to no wind. It is not as cold as predicted thanks to overnight cloud cover. A lone figure works his way along the busy road towards the memorial. Cars are zipping by in groups of ten or twenty. Still he feels very alone, on this pilgrimage to the memorial.

Then others in small groups start their pilgrimages, both from abode and vehicle, also towards the memorial. Soon these groups start to merge, intermingle, and soon are so great the people are almost forced to walk on the busy road. The groups approach the memorial grounds. Three Navy officers leading one large group suddenly change direction to their left, like it was rehearsed, when confronted by a large pine tree.

Suddenly, the group splits in two,  those who choose to be lead follow the officers, the others spear right ….. now the race is on. The group to the left soon realise their mistake when confronted by barricades – or is it entanglements? – and quickly veer right to rejoin the others. The barricades are almost maze like in an attempt to funnel the groups (into a crowd) on to the memorial parade grounds.

The crowd is through the first set of barricades!! Their momentum propels them across their first objective – the road to the car park – adjusting slightly left for the advance onto the second set of barricades. They probe the defences and suddenly a weakness is exploited. The crowd stream through into the open ground behind. Spreading out, working their way up the small hill in their way. They quickly realise their second objective – the crest of the hill – is also heavily defended (by volunteers) and barricaded.

The pace slows as the crowd consolidates for the final central push. They crest the hill, trying to work their way past the volunteers, to take the much sought after high-ground. It soon becomes clear that previous waves have already occupied these positions. The crowd scatters, vying for any small space to the left or right they can. Some don’t make it. They end up being herded down onto the parade ground – the final objective – where crowds from the other sectors have also converged.

Everyone has arrived to the final objective on-time just as stories of ANZAC’s are being re-told by young and old. Now we must all hurry-up-and-wait and mark time to the beat of the TV camera’s. Ten long minutes go by before the commemoration begins, the crowd who were quietly murmuring now fall silent. Hymns are sung which glorify our gracious dead. The Last Post sounds, everyone looks to the memorial wall for the source of the bugle call. A minutes silence to honour the dead. Then the Rouse and the Reveille are played.

The crowd holds its breath, not flinching until released by the master of ceremonies. The crowd is thanked for it’s attendance, and as if they are all of one mind, they work their way back from whence they came. The crowd slowly works their way back down the previously captured ground. They filter back into their abodes and vehicles, breaking into smaller and smaller groups until there are but a few lone figures are traipsing along the once again busy road.

Finally, there is but one lone figure slowly walking along the busy road. Reflecting on the morning’s events. Reflecting on the sacrifices of all our men and women who have served. Reflecting on what the ANZAC spirit truly means.

Lest We Forget

Photos

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3rd Battalion AIF panels

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GIBBS, William Taylor

Lest We Forget

11 April 1930
http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/76319824

The Biz
Fairfield, NSW
Friday 11 April 1930

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