Like many before and, I am sure, like many to come, ANZAC Day was yet another magical moment for me. A week has now past and the buzz may have subsided but let’s not forget all that this day stands for.
While my Grandpa, who I unfortunately never had the privilege of meeting, did his part in fighting for our amazing country during World War II (posted as part of the coastal defence in NSW and later deployed to Darwin following the attack in February 1942), this forms only a small portion of my devotion to this day and the gratitude I have for all that our service men, women and animals did and continue to do to ensure we can revel in the freedom that is ours, and the magic that I feel is ANZAC Day.
In 2006, I made the journey to Gallipoli for one of the most moving ANZAC services I’ve experienced to date. Standing on those shores picturing the carnage that took place 91 years earlier chilled me to my core. And while the tears freely flowed, the horror of what I imagined turned into an embrace of the tens of thousands of others around me as we stood united in our respect for those who fought and fell. The service that followed at Lone Pine was no different. As my friend who I traveled with combed the commemorative panel (memorial wall listing the names of soldiers who had fallen and were never recovered) in search of her great grandfather, I will never forget what took place before me. As we searched, a Turkish national approached my friend, his arms extended ready to embrace and his traditional red neck tie in hand as a peace offering. Whilst his exact words escape me, the familiarity of ‘I am sorry for what has happened. Who are you searching for and let’s find him together’ stands clear, and it was not long after that they found him. A truly magical moment.
In 2007, as part of a fundraising campaign for charity, I trekked Kokoda. While this didn’t tie in with ANZAC Day, the company who ran the expedition did an incredible job of sharing the history of the track and the events that took place at every moment along the way. So detailed were their accounts that I would find myself submerged in the surrounds, clearly visualising the battle that was. A few days in we reached the Isurava Memorial, the site of one of many bloody battles in the area. It was here that each member of our group was handed a portion of a speech to share in a remembrance ceremony and where each and every one of us, men and women from the age of 26 through to 60, stumbled through our parts as the tears, once again, freely flowed. While each moment along that track was significant, it was the intimacy that was shared and the bond that was formed, not only with my fellow trekkers, but with our native guide and porters that, all these years on, still brings a smile to my face and fills me with a magical warmth.
In the years since, I have joined the thousands of others at varying services throughout Australia. This ANZAC Day was no different, shared with 7,000 others at an incredibly moving service at Mooloolaba Beach on the Sunshine Coast. I once again felt the embrace of people of all ages, religions and races who had come together to remember and respect the spirit of our ANZACs. Not a human sound could be heard during the last post and the minute’s silence that followed. And I swear, just for that moment, the waves stopped crashing in a sign of respect. Magical.
As the world continues to change at such a dramatic rate, it can sometimes feel that the freedom our ANZACs desperately fought for and continue to fight for is slowly escaping us. With all that happens, it is easy to get angry. It is easy to forget. However, as the weeks and months go by I urge you to hold onto and remember that feeling of being united; that feeling of gratitude and comradery so easily experienced on this day. Remember the magic of ANZAC Day.
Lest We Forget.
Picture taken at Mooloolaba Dawn Service