So, Anzac day 2016 in Australia was a complete eye-opener; Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance observed on 25th April each year. Anzac Day was originally meant to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, who fought at Gallipoli against the Ottoman Empire during World War I. But has now become very broad and now commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders, “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations,” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”.
We have a remembrance Sunday back in the UK, but it’s not a national holiday as it is here in Australia. On the 25th, we took to the main street in Ipswich (Queensland) at about half nine in the morning to watch the marching parade. This ceremony was filled with local schools, serving officers, emergency services, local clubs along with families and friends of former serving officers. It was an entirely new experience for me, don’t get me wrong, back home I pay my respects too, my grandfather served in Vietnam, and I will always have a deep respect for those who take the leap to serve their country. I love hearing my granddad’s stories as a kid and the well, more graphic versions as an adult.
So we stood on the bridge leading into Ipswich and waited, before you could even see them you could feel them, yes it’s not a typo, we could feel them!!! The bridge was bouncing up and down in time with the people marching. It was weird, yet awesome at the same time. The people were all dressed up, and the bands were playing, everyone was waving. It was quite a sight and pride was beaming from everyone. It’s how I hope the parades are in London, filled with worthy and proud people getting the honour they deserve.
The celebrations in Ipswich didn’t stop there, we then walked a few short minutes to what I think was a sports stadium of some kind, sitting on the surrounding grass next to the entrance. All the current serving local officers were all lined up in front of us in symmetrical lines but in an at ease standing position. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was a ceremony of kind words, sung songs and a victory lap for those who had served their country to be honoured. I did feel sorry for the current serving officers as they were dropping like flies towards the end of the ceremony, we later found out that they had been up and on duty since the dawn service at 4:27 am, no wonder the heat was now getting to them at half 10 in the morning.
It was an awesome and very humbling experience. It does make me blue to think that back home we don’t make so much of a fuss. It is sad, as our troops back home past and present deserve it too.