Confession time: I am ashamed to admit but prior to Monday I had never attended an ANZAC Day Dawn Service. I know it’s shameful and after attending this year, I feel even worse about it.
If you read no further in this post than this, I am telling you to make it a priority to get there next year.
Matt & I decided we would go this year, with the decision made easier by the fact that our apartment in South Melbourne is situated no less than 150m from the Shrine of Remembrance. If we didn’t go, it would have truly been unforgivable. So the alarm was set for a 5.15am rise and we were out the door for the 2min walk by just after 5.30am.
The morning was cold, dark & eerie, with super thick fog descending on the city, making it hard to see how many people where actually huddled around the memorial. I knew there were a few as we could get nowhere near the front , so as the ceremony continued and the sun rose it was obvious that we weren’t the only ones who had made the decision to attend. Later that night, 7 news suggested that 35,000 people attended, which was truly impressive.
As we couldn’t see a thing, we relied on listening to the voices and music through the loud speakers. The shivers that ran up my spine were quite unexpected and I was a bit more emotional than I had prepared to be.
When the formalities were over we wondered down the ‘Gunfire Breakfast’ held by the RSL which was served by current servicemen and women. Half a bun, sausage, baked beans, scrambled eggs and a couple of Anzac breakfasts in a styrofoam plate – perfect!
The parade wasn’t due to start until 9am and we finished brekkie by 7am, so we went back to the apartment for a bit of rest. They rugged back up to cheer on at the parade.
This was a highlight for me, seeing the men and women looking so proud as they made their way 1.8km along the route. Some certainly faster than others but if they want to march, then let them march I say, who cares how long it takes.
However the moment of the day came when the ‘Poppy’ of about 5 young kids who were patiently sitting next to us finally came past about 1.5 hours into the parade. The kids had been happily clapping along, waving their Aussie flags at all the people but then when they finally spotted ‘Poppy’ they bolted out into the middle of the parade yelling excitedly at him, giving him high fives and hugging him intensely. Poppy looked so proud and happy, even broke into a jog/skip back to his group waving back to his family. Precious stuff!
I walked away from the day truly inspired and more thankful than ever by the sacrifices that all of these men & women gave for our country to allow me to do whatever I chose to do today.
One of those choices I will continue to make is to attend as many dawn services as I can in the future. It’s one morning a year to put a whole bunch of things in perspective!
Becstar xEerily foggy and shows as close as we could get to the Shrine.
The Victoria Barracks looking so pretty.
The Shrine on a quieter day.