On the eve of Anzac Day, I am pondering what I should write. I had some thoughts and then they passed. I wish my Great Grandfather was here to ask. Afterall, Anzac Day has come and gone on the same day every year for 100 years. He certainly has had plenty of time to consider the meaning of the day, or rather what it meant to him.
On 25th April 1916, inaugural Anzac Day ceremonies were held across Australia; a march was held in London and a sports day was held in the Australian Camp in Egypt. For Great Grandfather and his comrades, memories would have been raw. Only 12 months had passed since that fateful landing at Gallipoli, and in the months since, many more lives were lost. Those men in Egypt were still at war, so in the years to come, there would be many more. John Monash described the anniversary celebrations as:
“A short but dignified service and then a holiday for the troops who had a glorious time with aquatic sports in the Suez Canal.” (1)
When I glance back and forth across the rows of faces in my Great Grandfather’s military photos, I wonder what happened to all those brave men. Did they survive the war, into old age? I have read letters written by Great Grandfather’s comrades who did grow old. They remembered and reminisced old friends; those who died and those who survived. They were all entrenched in that short period of their lives; they were bound together by the secrets they shared and could only share with each other. Despite the years and changing life circumstances, they were forever linked in death and life.
For soldiers, young and old, Anzac Day is the coming together of understanding souls. They march for each other, for their shared experiences, but most of all, they march for those who never made it home.
Lest We Forget.
(1) The Advertiser, Adelaide, Friday Nov 24 1934