Thursday, April 29, 2010

At the going down of the sun we will remember

It's been a few days since Anzac day, but this is the first time since that I've had a chance to blog. I've been privileged to see several sites of Australian and Commonwealth wartime significance on my travels - the Gallipoli battlefields and cemeteries, Hellfire Pass and Kanchanaburi in Thailand, the infamous battlefields in Vietnam, and also the Normandy beaches and cemeteries. 
Every battlefield and cemetery is sombre, poignant and moving, as you'd expect. Every grave in the Commonwealth cemeteries hosts a scripture, poem or message from loved ones. Interestingly, the American cemeteries in Normandy are quite different and simply list a soldier's name, rank and hometown. The rows and rows of crosses as far as the eye can see each marking a soldier's resting place, speak plainly enough. 
Every Anzac day service is slightly different. I remember eating Anzac biscuits in the Thai jungle and it feeling quite incongruous, and the Australian and New Zealand services at the Wellington Arch in London are held on alternate years and differ quite a lot. 
This Anzac day, I went to the service at the Queenscliff barracks. I'd guess there were a few hundred people in attendance recognising the importance of keeping the Anzac spirit alive. Veterans, couples, young children, families were all there commemorating. As a historian and traveller, I understand the importance of remembering those who have gone before and what they gave. We took our baby daughter along with us and I hope she'll be at an Anzac service every year so that she respects and appreciates who's gone before and those who are serving right now.
Just a few inscriptions from Gallipoli graves to share with you: 
An Anzac Brave in an Anzac grave
We have loved him in life, let us not forget him in death
Oh Gallipoli thou holdest one of God's noblest from his loved ones
He gave his life that others may live
Their name liveth forevermore

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