ANZAC Day – Lest we forget

April 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Australia, History, War and Conflict | 1 Comment
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Dirk and I walked the 2.5km into Wangi this morning for the Anzac Day march and service. As we walked down the street towards the path around the lake, we saw several other groups of people coming from cars and homes to walk as well. There were groups of people walking all along the lakeside path into town.

In Wangi village, we were amazed at the numbers who turned out, children too. They lined the main street in hundreds– and Wangi is not a big place.

At 10am we heard the thump, thump of the big drum as the parade approached from where they had assembled near the primary school. Then they turned into the main street, led by one police motorcyclist, followed by a small RAAF contingent and the local pipe band.

The war veterans of the district walked proudly behind the band, wearing their service medals. Two cars carried old and disabled ex-servicemen. Young people marched too, representing their fathers, grandfathers or great-grandfathers. Then came the Scouts, and children from three primary schools around the district.

Most exciting for the children was the parade of old army vehicles: jeeps, troop carriers, a couple of small tanks, two half-tracks, regular army trucks, an armoured car, and two motorbikes, all proceeding along the street under their own power. A few more veterans rode in these too.

The vehicles were in various stages of restoration, and many of them were ex-U.S. army. One was a beautifully restored staff car. An old NSW Bush Fire Brigade fire truck and our local active fire truck, the local RSL (Returned Services League) bus and a police patrol car brought up the rear.

The crowd then moved en masse along the street towards the memorial that stands outside the RSL club. There the service to remember the fallen of past wars was held. The main speaker was a retired Colonel of the New Zealand army, who spoke of the ties that unite our two countries, ties that began on the bloody beaches of Gallipoli.

While he spoke, an elderly woman not far from us fainted. Someone brought a chair from the club, but she wasn’t well and a call was made for any doctor or nurse who might be present., and an ambulance was rung for.

It was some time before someone thought to lie her down with a blanket, and even longer (after the service was over and everyone was leaving) before an ambulance arrived. Given the shortage of vehicles and personnel in the ambulance service, it probably wasn’t surprising. There may also have been call-outs to other elderly participants at the many other Anzac services being held around the district.

Most people were unaware of the medical emergency, and she was behind a small brick fence and therefore hidden from those conducting the service, which continued with the laying of wreaths, hymns, the Last Post, a minute’s silence and our national song. I found the service moving and inclusive, and was impressed with the numbers who attended.

I just hope that the young yahoos, who take any opportunity they can to justify getting drunk and aggressive and stupid, don’t spoil the real meaning of the day.

Anzac Day is not a time for thoughtless nationalism either. It a time to remember our country’s fallen and those affected by war; a time to reflect on what destruction wars cause. It is a reminder that we need to work for peace, but that sometimes, going to war is the only way we can achieve that peace.

LEST WE FORGET.

(c) Linda Visman

Anzac Day 2012

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