April 25th 2015 was the centenary of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps
landing at Gallipoli. While some lucky Aussies were in Turkey at the dawn service in Gallipoli we were a long way away back here in Australia. So it is, in towns and cities across the country commemorating one hundred years (1915 - 2015) since
the Gallipoli landing. It’s a story that is talked about as the birth of a nation, it’s a legend. Australia had not long been federated when World War I arrived and young men signed up to fight. Many of these young men came from small
country towns such as the one we find ourselves in right now.
April 25th each year Australia remembers our fallen soldiers especially from World War I
and more so those who landed on a foreign shore in the wrong place and tried to fight an uphill battle. We call it ANZAC Day and it is much more now than just remembering those young men who were sent to their deaths by a military machine, colonial in nature and on the other side of the world. These men proved themselves and the new nation that
we were something to be proud of despite the defeat. It is this annual tradition of dawn services and parades, playing two-up and early drinks that Australia chooses to commemorate this coming of age, this proving ground. Many of the young men who enlisted to fight in WWI lied about their age just to get in. One wonders if they knew what they were
getting into? They wouldn’t have realised the horror of war, life in trenches filled with death and destruction.
This year I became part, only a small part, of the preparations for ANZAC Day in this little
town. I was a volunteer and my job on the day and prior to were many, mostly moving chairs, organising displays and compiling records relating to those young men on the Honour Roll. Other jobs leading up to the event included assisting with the removal
of paint from the memorial. These are things i gladly did to assist the person who recruited me and beyond that to the community at large. From my perspective the day has importance as my maternal grandfather saw service in WWI and
a little in WWII. I have now seen Anzac Day in a number of places in Australia, both city and country. The day is usually a public holiday but this year it fell on a Saturday.
year, in this place, there was a dawn service (actually held at sunrise because there were not enough lights in the park). The service was followed by a Breakfast in the Shire Hall, catered by the local P&C (Parents and Citizens) Association. After the big breakfast there was a painting unveiling in the Shire Council Office. This was one big painting in three panels almost from floor to ceiling and represented all three
armed services (army, navy and air force) plus all theatres of combat that Australian troops have been involved in. The artist was a local and the painting had only just been put up the night before. The shire office is not normally open on a Saturday
morning but for this they opened the front doors and both locals and visitors had a good look at the newest addition.
Following the unveiling there was the parade, which had a military brass band, a couple
of pipers, bag-pipes that is, some ex-service personnel, some current service personnel
and the local school was represented. There were people on horseback representing the Australian Light
Horse Regiment and local sporting clubs, they’re big on polocrosse out here. Following the horses were the emergency services vehicles and volunteers i.e. the Rural Fire Service and finally the local constabulary from Queensland Police Service.
Then, there was the regular Anzac Day service with more laying of wreaths, speeches by various
representatives and a special musical performance by a talented local girl. This young lady from the local school performed her own song ‘I
only knew you for a minute’. It also had the obligatory ‘Last Post’
and oaths of remembrance which always finish with the words ‘lest we forget’.
After the service, it was time for lunch, a barbeque lunch at the local hotel. There was two-up and free drinks for VIPs. Apparently the commemorating went on for some time after. It
had been a big day with an early start for us so it was soon home to relax and take in all that had happened. I was grateful to have been part of another Anzac Day and to have lent a hand this time. I know there was a lot of work done behind the
scenes before the event and a lot fell into place on the day.
War is not glorified on Anzac
Day but commemorated, of course there is drinking and gambling within the tradition but when young men went to war sometimes those were the only things that kept them going. The big question that ANZAC Day raised is: One hundred years on and what have