Thursday, 25 April 2013

It was not quite light when I

prowled out this morning. Getting up that early is not unusual for me but I am feeling snuffly. What was I doing this for? Nobody really cares. I could have curled up for another half an hour.  But, I was up and I had said I would do it. 
Outside I discovered it was, ever so slightly, damp and I thought I might be alone. No. 
There is no dog this year but the man who walked him is walking up our small street. A front door opens and another figure walks over. Then two more people next door to that. 
Gradually we are joined by several others. The Whirlwind and her father walk around with several people from the next street. For once the Whirlwind is not talking. She is holding her father's hand. The two boys who live next door to her are walking on either side of their mother. 
We gather quietly on a small patch of lawn across the street. At the very last two more people join us. They look uncertain but we shift slightly to make sure they are very much part of the group. 
Nobody says anything. We can hear the faint sound of a hymn being sung in the distance. Then it comes, the bugle call.
As it finishes I hear several soft sounds of breath being let out. The last couple to come hold one another tightly. I do not know them except by sight but I now know their son is in Afghanistan. 
The man who walked the dog told them what we had done last year. He also told several other people in their street what we had done not quite on purpose last year and, quite accidentally, the year before that. They all made the effort to get up early and come just for the last few minutes before the Last Post was sounded at the ANZAC Day Dawn Service over on the Reserve. 
The father of the soldier then says just one word,
His voice cracks even on that. 
The people from the next street depart quietly but in a group. My neighbours return home. 
The idea that ANZAC Day is irrelevant with the passing of the last of them is nonsense. There are still people who desperately need us to remember.

1 comment:

Jan said...

Thank you for this. I think local community remembrances are increasing, either small like this or larger as in the area where one of my sons lives.

He goes each year to the service put on by the local RSL club. He says it's the one day where he will always be up early. Numbers there have grown considerably over the last few years and last year the club was host for breakfast afterwards to over 2000. He takes his young children.

This area, which was once predominantly Anglo-Saxon, has changed with immigration to a preponderance of those whose origins would have put them on the other side of the battlefield at Gallipoli. They come too in their hundreds.

( love your security words today. arenae where we make the plural with an "s" and worshap so near but not quite there.)