I’m sure you have heard about the Anzacs! The brave men and women from Australia and New Zealand whose endurance, courage, ingenuity, good humour, and mateship forged the Anzac legend. If you aren’t familiar with the Anzac’s, let me give you some insight into the significance of one of Australia’s most important national occasions – not only as a resident Australian but also as a serving member of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
On the 25th of April, Australians and New Zealanders worldwide observe a day of Remembrance as a sign of respect to those who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. The date is significant as it was the first landing of troops on the beaches of Gallipoli.
On home soil most major cities (including Brisbane and the Gold Coast) offer both a Dawn Service and a Midday Service, while smaller country towns may only hold one service. I remember as a 12 year old boy in my small country home town waking up at 4 am donning my cadet uniform before manning the war memorial as a guard of honour for dawn service.
Dawn service ceremonies usually include an introduction, hymn, prayer, an address, laying of wreaths, recitation, the playing of the Last Post, a minute of silence followed by the Ode of Remembrance, Reveille, and the playing of both the New Zealand and Australian national anthems.
The Last Post is played as a final farewell, symbolising the duty of the dead soldier is over and they can rest in peace.
Silence for one or two minutes is included in the Anzac Day ceremony as a sign of respect and a time for reflection.
The Ode of Remembrance is as follows:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Reveille or rouse symbolises an awakening in a better world for the dead, and also rouses the living back to duty.
Another tradition that follows Dawn Service is the Gunfire Breakfast where you can warm up with a coffee laced with rum or the more common condensed milk drink with rum.
Preceding the midday ceremony you can attend one of many marches held in the city. The 2018 Brisbane Anzac Day Parade marks the centenary of the Armistice signed in November 1918 and the concept will recognise the contribution of service animals. The best position to view the parade is on Adelaide Street, between George Street and Creek Street. The parade runs between 10 am and 1 pm. The parade of former and current servicemen and women has been a feature of Brisbane’s Anzac Day since the 1920s.
Anzac Day holds a special place in my heart having lost two friends during their service to this country and I, along with many of my friends and colleagues have proudly served on operations overseas. The sacrifices made by service members and their families can never be repaid.
Come down and show your support to former and current veterans and their families by taking the opportunity to attend an Anzac Day march or service. Strike up a conversation with someone in uniform, I’m sure they will have a story to tell you.
See you on the trail.
– CPL Jake (GAFF) McGaffin