Friday, 25 April 2008
There was frost on the ground and smoke still in the air when I left home very early to attend the Dawn Service in this small country town this morning. My two dogs thought the early hour meant an exciting rabbit chasing walk in the dark, but they were to be sadly disappointed when left behind. Probably about two hundred people of all ages, including several babes in arms, were there at the small War Memorial outside the Post Office in the cold, to watch and listen and remember. The service focused not only on those who served and died for their countries during all the past major conflicts, but the importance of Anzac Day in contributing to the sense of community spirit and national identity. The fact that numbers attending this service and the march that will follow are increasing, seems to prove this as the younger generations become involved. We listened in the dark to speeches from servicemen of the past, and as daughters of a local farmer sang the National Anthem and "We are Australian". The Policeman's daughter sang Eric Bogle's haunting song "And the band played Waltzing Matilda", her voice echoing around the town in the early light, as a few tears were shed.
The service ended with traditional laying of wreaths at the foot of the memorial, and then those attending adjourned to the CFA buildings for breakfast of eggs and bacon around huge warming fires in 44 gallon drums and a chance to catch up with friends. Local identities, usually seen only in work clothes, were all scrubbed up and proudly wearing medals from their service years, and ready to take part in the march to be held later this morning. I have not been to a march in this town before, but plan to today - I expect I shall find it equally as moving as the service early this morning as it will stir memories of my own Father who spent almost thirty years of his life in the Royal Air Force before bringing us all to Australia.