Thursday, April 25, 2013
Lest We Forget: An ANZAC Day march
I loaded Dear Boy into his pram this morning and took him on a train adventure into the city to watch the ANZAC Day March along St Kilda Road towards the Shrine of Remembrance. We collected rosemary and poppies and far-too-sunny photographs of some of the marchers. I cried watching the women marching under their own service banners. I cried when the man next to me dabbed at his eyes with a well-pressed hankie. I cried when one lone man marched behind a banner that once flew over a full unit of his fellow soldiers.
My family is not a military family but some of them have served. One went away to France in WWI and came home. One went away to Belgium in WWII and didn't. One went away to Vietnam and came home although something vital stayed behind. His sons joined the air force and were posted on 'peacekeeping' missions in East Timor and, last I heard, off on I'm-not-sure-what-they-call-it in Iraq. Others served in the British and Australian Merchant Navy. In Lovely Husband's family there is a big empty hole where the Official Secrets Act hides what happened to their great grandfather. There are a few photos of handsome men in uniform and a few bundles of letters with long black streaks of redacted words. There are stiff legs and scars. There are wounds within our families that will never heal, that are are being carried on generation by generation. There are secrets and awful truths and nightmares and violence. There are stories and pride. There is a retelling and remembering. There is no celebration, but there is commemoration.
I don't like war (who does, really?) and I've disagreed with our inclusion in various conflicts but there is a time and a place to protest about it. Several incredibly white and incredibly middle-class men decided to make a point with the dummy below, resting it against a bridge crossing the Yarra behind the crowds but in the flow of people moving up and down the street. It was incredibly life-like and made small children shriek and men with medals on their chests weep. Then these same smirking arseholes decided to shoot water at the marchers with water pistols. The crowd surged up around them and wrestled the toy guns away from them, berated them and handed them over to the waiting police-officers. Disagree, sure, but don't disrespect the people that served, that survived, that died.
And because I hate leaving it there, on that note, here's a (pretty bad) video of a marching band. Because I do love me a good drum band.