I like the way that ANZAC day is commemorated in the Northern Rivers. I suspect it is similar in many country towns.
The bravery and sacrifice of past and current military are of course central to the day. As happens everywhere, the marches in Alstonville, Lismore and Ballina are lead by our verterans. Some of our current service men and women march behind.
But the march has also become a celebration of all those people who belong to the other groups that
contribute to our community. Many of these ‘civilian’ marchers spend the whole year sacrificing their time in the service of others.
So today cheer on the SES volunteers, the Surf Life Savers and the Rural Fire Brigade. The Ballina Brass Band is inside a catte truck! There goes the Community Service Clubs, endlessly raffling and sizzling to raise money to build new facilities for the cmmunity. The Scouts and Girl Guides, and the Navy and Air Force Cadets are marching in time – well, almost in time – under the watchful eyes of the men and women who lead teach each week. And give a special loud clap to the Indigenous Sporting and Support Groups.
Here come the residents of the nursing home, passing along the route in buses- some of them are waving their Australian flags, and those who can’t are helped by the wonderful nurses who look after them. They need a specially loud cheer.
And finally each of the schools and pre-schools march along behind their school captians – the special banners held high. They look quite the part in their uniforms. All the High School and Primary Schools – Government, Catholic, Christian – together in one parade. Its hard to pick out any particular little ones among the crowd – so better take a photo of all of them.
Many of the children wear the medals that belonged to great grandpa or grandma. A special day to be proud of our elders.
Join with your neighbours to line the streets, clap and cheer. Take the opportunity to thank all those people who help us. And then its over. Only thirty minutes! Now that’s a morning well spent.
Some criticise Anzac day as a celebration of war. I know that my father and uncle, like many others who served in WW2, preferred not to remember so publicly. I don’t believe they ever marched.
However, it seems to me that Anzac Day has become unique in the calendar as a celebration of connectedness. We feel connected with our parents and grandparents who lived through WW1 and WW2 and somehow still made good lives for themselves and for us. And we feel connected with the all those people who form our own communities – from the residents of our nursing homes to the little ones just starting school.
I like it like that.
Lest we forget.