Monday, April 20, 2015

Anzac Day has always been big for me

I'm surprised that there's not much hype about the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. I like the way that it is still measured and respectful. It's strange that this year I won't be at a dawn service - I don't think. Just a practical thing.

But I had joined the Air Force cadets when I was 12 and that had concreted for me how important Anzac Day was. Through my teens we would have a few marches each year - one in Gawler the week before Anzac Day, and then the big one in town.

We'd meet at the Air Force Association in North Adelaide, and get our lollipop - the sign on a stick we'd march with for the particular squadron. I remember that one year I had "the flying shovels" - engineers who'd build runways. I didn't think it was cool at the time but I think it's bloody cool now. Thinking of the men who didn't even get to go to war made me remember this song:

I wonder if my grandfather (a bricklayer who built munitions factories during the war) had ever been given a white feather? How terrible would that be?

Anzac Day has always been big for me. I remember when I was in Cairns that I went to the dawn service there with dad. Yes, I'll probably go to the one at Picton this year.

Back in 2008 I walked the Kokoda track for interest and a personal challenge. Upon returning I said to a nice old guy who went there "gee you dug a lot of foxholes" and he went quiet. But not before he had retorted:

"Yeah we dug a bloody lot of graves too mate"

And he hated Anzac Day.

As I get older, I increasingly hold our military people in great awe. I get to quibble over my first world problems while they leave home and family and do what they're told. Whatever that is. I've recently met a guy whose job it was to walk in front of fighting units, scanning for improvised explosive devices. Joking about how the Afghan dust forms like a mud masque all over your body after a month. Another guy who gave me practical tips about how it's important to get the first shot off in a pistol fight, or to keep advancing in a knife fight. "You're gonna get cut, the important thing is to not get too badly hurt". Those are tips I probably will never need to use, in my comfortable little bubble.

Lest we forget.

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