Today is Anzac Day in Australia. Due to restrictions caused by the coronavirus, we are unable to experience any of the normal commemorations: dawn service, the march where young and old come together, medals, two-up, RSL lunch, to name a just a few.
It’s a big day here. One that gives us pause to remember the advancement of more than 30,000 men in a small cove on the Gallipoli peninsula over a century ago. The aim of the mission was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire. Our soldiers met fierce resistance from Turkish troops, lying in wait on the hills that overlooked the cove. More than 25,000 were injured and over 7000 died as they disembarked boats in the small light of dawn onto the beach and attempted to fight their way onto land. As the years have passed, Anzac Day commemorations have embraced a wider perspective to recognise all wars, all our soldiers.
I can’t express how disheartened I am that Australians (and Kiwis) are prevented from attending dawn services, and unable to stand solemnly and bow heads as the Last Post is played while the sun begins to rise from the horizon. In a true testament of the Aussie spirit, though, many individuals held their own dawn service at the front of their homes; others placed a candle in a window. And, once the shops open, I’ll be purchasing the ingredients I need to make Anzac biscuits, and sometime during the day, I hope to sit still and watch Gallipoli.
Lest we forget.