Saturday, 25 April 2009

ANZAC Thoughts

Dawn came in Hollywood technicolour this ANZAC day and there was even a camera crew from the local T.V. to film the streaks of apricot and silver flaming across the sky, the towers of clouds, and the spreading pool of light. Dawn over a little granite cenotaph on a green grassy knoll in very rural New Zealand. It did looked splendid, nature turning on the technicolour to honour the occasion. And the piper - with his wee apprentice grandson for a shadow playing his tiny set of pipes - piping one of the Highland Laments, followed by a very shaky old bugler who did not wobble or miss one note, had me in tears.

After the wreath laying and prayers, a piped version of 'Amazing Grace' saw the dozen returned servicemen march off and people spoke about who they had come to remember. Brothers and fathers killed in Europe, Africa, and Burma. Grandfathers who fought the Japanese in the Pacific and died in the Singapore concentration camp, great and great-great grandfathers who died at Gallipoli or at Ypres or Flanders. Here was a group for whom 'Lest we forget' meant something special. The small crowd of parents, grandparents and grandchildren, the local school representatives with their wreath, those old enough to have lost brothers and fathers, and those who had never met grandparents, all came to remember that those men and women who died, whose names were inscribed on the cenotaph, had given their lives in the belief that they were protecting their families and friends back home.

It was dawn when those poor soldiers were landed at Gallipoli in a bungled attempt to prevent the war to end all wars. It was dawn when we bowed our heads in prayer and remembered our relatives who never came home. But when will it dawn on politicians that remembering the war dead is supposed to remind us that war should never happen again?