Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Please stay fine for the ANZAC Day march

I think to myself. It rained at a crucial moment early this morning - just before the dawn services were due to begin.  At the moment it is fine but cloudy and the forecast is for more rain later. Please, make it later.
The last thing I want to do is glorify war. There is nothing glorious about war. Most of the people we label as "heroes" were terrified young men doing as they were told, terrified in a way that the rest of us will never know about.
The men of WWI have gone. The men of WWII are getting older and fewer.  Each year I remember the time we spent living in a "soldier settlement" area - one of the farming communities set up by the government after WWII to try and give returning servicemen some form of gainful employment. The ANZAC Day dawn service was one of the most important events on the community calendar. Everything else stopped for it. The wildest teens in the community - and there were a few - didn't put a foot out of line. Every school child turned up to the service. We had gone through all the usual hymns at school the week before - no nonsense about religious sensitivities as the Methodist minister and the Catholic priest and the Anglican priest and my father as headmaster organised the service with the head of the Returned Serviceman's League. Men wept. 
It was strangely quiet in the early morning.
Later there would be "the march" and we children would stand in our Guide and Scout uniforms or our school uniforms on either side of the road they came down. When it was over the men would disappear. They would go and drink beer, play "two-up", and perhaps reminisce. I say "perhaps" because most of them didn't want to remember and their dreams were often full of their war experiences. 
The youngest member of the library knitting group is in the state's school choir and they were singing at the main dawn service in the city. It meant getting up at 4:30am to get in there on time.  I wonder what sort of impact it will have on her. She is about the age I was when I first really became aware of ANZAC Day.  She is a creative, thoughtful child. 
It is something MsW has done in the past - and the experience made her a fierce pacifist. It is as well her father was there to support her afterwards. It caused a leap forward in her emotional maturity.
I rather suspect there will be some "bored" children today, children for whom the events of today will have little or no meaning. But, for those who do understand something of the emotions behind the events it will perhaps be a good thing. They may help to at least reduce the conflicts of the future. 

1 comment:

Holly Doyne said...

A country which doesn't remember its past doesn't bode well for the future.

In the US, Memorial Day, Veteran's Day etc have become too commercialized. Many think by incorporating "thank you for your service" in ordinary conversation they have fulfilled their obligation to remember, respect and deal honestly with the future.

Not so.

Thank you for a lovely and sensitive thought piece (peace)