Today is the 25th April…Anzac Day…a national day of remembrance when we acknowledge those who served, and those who gave their lives for their country.
So this morning, we set the alarm for a very early hour and got ourselves out of bed, into the car and into the city to join the thousands of people heading towards the Shrine to attend the Dawn Service…
This is not the first time we have been, but each time I forget just moving the service is…and today, on the 99th anniversary, was no exception.
Even walking through the dark streets towards the Shrine is an experience…so many people, all heading in the same direction, yet it is strangely hushed.
The service starts at 6am, but the forecourt starts to fill up long before. This year we made it up onto the grassy area to the left of the Shrine.
As the time gets closer, the lights are dimmed on the Shrine, and the crowd becomes silent…it becomes quite eerie…
A prelude is read out, telling the stories of various service men and women. The large screens around the area show their images.
Then at 6am, the time of the original landing, the Last Post rings out…it always gives me goosebumps…
We couldn’t see the Eternal Flame but could see the golden light from the flames on the memorial..
I don’t like being in crowds, particularly when it’s pitch dark, but for some reason I am fine…like the is a strange sort of comfort being in the company of so many strangers..huddled in groups to keep warm.
Nearby where we stood, there was a Dad with two gorgeous little girls…they sat in wonderment during the service, occasionally asking to be lifted up so they could see what was happening…it was heartwarming to watch.
And at other end of the scale, there was a guy drinking a beer…
The weather was kind this year….pre Dawn, it was cold, but clear and totally still. And the sun rose and shone brightly..Melbourne turned on a perfect day! We did find out later that it was the coldest Anzac dawn in 8 years…
After the service, it was time to warm up and refresh…so along with the crowds, we headed off to hunt down some breakfast. Cafés are filled quickly, and seating is at a premium.
Here is a photo to give you some idea of how many people that were heading back up to the city…it was the largest crowd ever to attend the service!
This is Melbourne at its best…this looking up the Yarra River towards the Melbourne Cricket Ground…
After a few false starts, we secured breakfast and a rather nice chai tea…more on that in another post!
Suitably recharged, we headed back out into the glorious sunshine to watch some of the March.
And it is great to see although the numbers of the old soldiers are dwindling, their memory still remains strong. And each year the crowds are getting bigger!
Service men and women marched with pride, or rode in some rather fabulous cars, all soaking up the recognition and applause from those lining the streets!
If you have never attended a Dawn Service such as the one in Melbourne, it really is worth doing at least once…
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.