My special day is ANZAC Day. Is has a huge significance for me. Today’s dawn service was the most unusual I have ever attended. I stood alone, as I always like to do, but far more “alone” than usual. With social distancing in force, kiwis were encouraged to commemorate by gathering at their front gates. Therefore taking the place of the services normally held throughout the country. For my special day, I crossed the road and stood near a neighbour. She had her phone tuned into a broadcast making it a little like a service should be. Houses along the street visible in the darkness had representatives gathered, some with coffee cups in hand, others with hand held lights. As I returned inside, the sky lightened.
Why is ANZAC my special day? My father was a returned serviceman. Although it took ten years for him to succumb to the rigors of World War II, his service to his country eventually killed him. Every April 25th I pay a special tribute to the man I didn’t get a chance to know.
What are my earliest memories of this very special day? Watching Mum make a wreath from whatever flowers she had in the garden. They were always amazing wreaths and very unlike the “plastic” wreaths used today. She would lay the wreath during a service at a small memorial at Colac Bay, then head into Riverton. As a Girl Guide leader, both her and I would march in their parade prior to attending another service.
I would like to boast that I have never missed attending some type of ANZAC service on 25 April. But unfortunately, one year I not only missed my service, but the whole 25 April. Returning to New Zealand after a visit to USA, I had not factored losing a day into the bookings. This “loss” means nothing really, but that particular year, I was gutted. Attending the local cenotaph and placing a poppy later should have eased some angst, but it didn’t.
As well as attendance at my gate, I later also listened to this virtual service. Be assured the photos etc are of previous commemorative services, as marked.