Just home from the ANZAC Day dawn service and the traditional BBQ breakfast at the Surf Club after the service.
As I stood there in the predawn gloom many thoughts rolled around in the ol' brain. I thought I'd get some of them down before the disapear like the morning mist.
Better than 400 punters dragged themselves out of warm & comfy beds to give honour to the fallen in what is a small beachside community. I didn't recognise most of them so I'm guesing many of them are touristanistas. They are very welcome to share the morning with us.
The mob seemed made up of a couple of identifiable groups; the young families with sleepy eyed under fives wondering what the noise was about, the old timers there to remember mates and kin who didn't come home and a single USMC officer in full dress regalia, he's been there for a few years now so I suspect he is a local. I haven't noticed him at the local shopping centre or corner store so I wonder what his story is. But the most touching to me was the grommets. Young men 15-18, in bare feet and board shorts standing stock-still heads bowed listening to the ceremony with more dignity than I thought they could muster. It was only when the ceremony was over and there was more light that I noticed the stack of surfboards stashed beside the public bogs. These lads had got up earlier than they needed to, put aside the first couple of waves of the day to give respect to the diggers. Well done those men. The lives lost that they were commemorating were not much older than they are. Mum and dad were not making them be there. They didn't leave in a mob, so I doubt it was pre-arranged. It was just young men giving respect. Kinda makes me regret some of the Less Than Charitable things I've said about that age group. The Bobette insisted that we go this AM. SWMBO is away and The Bobette was insistent. She said "If you don't go I'm going anyway." How's that for the young people of today!
Recently two lost Diggers from the Malaya campaign were found and returned to their kin, the last 2 Australian MIA in Vietnam were found and brought home and the HMAS Centaur (a WW2 Hospital ship torpedoed by an IJN sub) was finally located off the SE QLD coast. It made me think that war is the second most abhorrent thing I know of and the remarkable bravery of the men and women who take up the challenge and fight on our behalf deserve all the support and honour we can give them. The worst thing I can think of is when we don't fight when we should have. EG Early 1930's China, if the international community had stood up against Imperial Japanese aggression then, could that have changed the next decade?
I won't say that our servicemen were supermen or beyond reproach. As with all human endeavours there are failings, mistakes and terrible accidents. But every last man Jack (or Jill) one of them deserves our thanks and honour.
I did a bit of history at Uni, so have been exposed to the culturally relativistic approach of historiography, placing events in a cultural context. There has been many stories of volunteers in WW1 setting off for a grand adventure, or to see off the hun or whatever. I've heard about a bazillion times about the WW2 recruits stepping up with the ANZAC myth of their fathers their eyes and about the horror that they discovered on the front line. I think this is so much myth making and horesh!t justification. The bottom line is that young Australian men and women for more than a century have stepped up and taken the fight to the enemy not for any geopolitics or foolish imperial ideal, but instead they fought and died for the man standing next to them.
I honour and thank them.
I think I'll leave comment off on this post.