Lucky and Blessed
For a small village of just 3000, my Peninsula town
has enough heart for the whole country.
It’s like the country, people live on farms, are a bit rough around the edge and generally keep to themselves bar a nod of the head outside the local post office. But on days like today they rally together because it’s important. The numbers of those who arrived at our local dawn service this morning were literally double those the year before – it was impressive.
I remember meeting Maureen, the town’s organiser, soon after we’d first moved in. She asked offhandedly if we were coming to the local Dawn Service – I’d never been before, not through a lack of connection or empathy, I thought it was reserved for those who had a strong connection to someone who had given service. The look on her face quickly told me that this was untrue. She insisted we be there and we have, to every since.
This morning a local Officer from HMAS Cerberus brought some of his men down for the proceedings, as they do every year, but it was his speech that got me most. This morning he honoured the fallen, and the local friends and family of the man who built the very house I live in today. The Officer read with such depth and gusto that I could feel the crowd leaning in as he recounted the steps the ANZACs took at Gallipolli in 1915. He quoted John F. Kennedy:
“For in the final analysis, our most basic common link,
is that we all inhabit this small planet,
we all breathe the same air,
we all cherish our children’s futures,
and we are all mortal.”
As the sun began to rise and we stood quietly in the cold watching the flag at half mast, he spoke of how we cannot take peace for granted. Of how it was important not to glorify war but instead honour those who have stood for us and what they stood for, and that in our current climate we must remember that our problems are made by man and so they can be solved by man.
Chaplain Murray spoke next and though I am not at all religious, I took a lot from his words and sentiment. He compelled us all to give thanks for the honor and sacrifice that was made to preserve the freedom that we enjoy today, that the price paid by those who fought on land, in the air and the sea, was to protect us all. It reminded me to be grateful for what I have: a roof over my head, freedom to think and speak my mind, a right to education, a right to health – that I am a young woman who has just started her own business, has completed two higher education courses and is finishing two more, and is able to do all of this knowing that there aren’t many true adversities standing in my way. How blessed.
The Last Post courtesy of The Australian War Memorial
Closing the ceremony, ‘For The Fallen’ verses 3 and 4 were read aloud with such tact, the local bag piper played and then hauntingly, ‘The Last Post‘. For someone who has never been in service, and hopefully never need be, I find the traditions and the performances sadly beautiful. The lone bugle, signifying the close of duty for those felled to rest in peace, caused the hair to prick up on my neck as I felt the people around me all connect energetically to a sense of stillness. And then the Australian Anthem, but not as we mindlessly sang it every Monday morning at school, but from our hearts and with pride, letting it truly mean something. I couldn’t help but imagine what Australia would be like if we all started our days with the deep sense of thanks that I shared this morning…
Getting up before the sun and heading down to my local town hall, this morning I stood side by side with my neighbours and community, remembering our ANZAC’s. For all the hoopla we make in the news and conversation about the state of our country, for the criticism we share of its leaders and its future in this current climate (and I am never one to shy from speaking my mind), I realised this dawn that we’re okay. That we are lucky. And blessed.
This morning I am filled with an immense sense of love and pride. For my community, for my sleepy town and for those who were – and are today – courageous enough to withstand fear, to protect and serve this great country we live in. Lest we forget.