Friday, April 25, 2014

The Valiant and the Brave - Lest We Forget - A-Z Blog Challenge

Today is Anzac Day in Australia, a public holiday that has echoes across time. Commemorating the landing by the Anzacs (the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) at Gallipoli on 25 April, 1915, it's when we look back and remember all those have lost their lives in war. 

It's a solemn day with marches, dawn services and wreath laying ceremonies held across the nation and not only in Australia. Every year thousands of Australians go to Turkey where they gather at the Anzac Commemorative site and Lone Pine on the Gallipoli Peninsula for services on April 25 commemorating what turned out to be a disaster in terms of loss of life as a result largely of poor planning but a time of bravery for many of the troops pinned down for much of the time in what became known as Anzac Cove. The Gallipoli and the Anzacs website tells what happened in that grim period from the first landing until the withdrawal on 19 December, 1915. 

Anzac Day is no longer just about Gallipoli though. Services are held in France every year in memory of those who fought there too and now extends to remembrance of those who have fought and died in the wars since World War 1.

There has been quite a change in regard to Anzac Day since I was a young woman. In those days it was only veterans who attended the dawn services and who marched in the Parade. This meant the young were less engaged and less appreciative of what had happened and the enormous sacrifices made  by so many. That's changed now and I think that's a good thing. It shows in the crowds of young people going to Turkey and that leads to a growing awareness of what war really means. I doubt you'd find young men going to join up now as a bit of lark but in the early days of World War 1 that's what many thought. By all means fight to protect your country if it's unavoidable but don't go off thinking it's going to be the adventure of a life time. War is a dangerous and dirty business and anyone who goes to fight in one should know exactly what they're committing to and why and Anzac Day provides a chance to reflect on what war is truly like.

When I was in Canberra last year I visited the Australian War Memorial for the first time. It was a profoundly moving experience as I moved along the walls inscribed with so many names searching for those of my great uncle, Horace Chamberlain King MC, who died of wounds 1918 aged just 22, and my uncles, John and Robert Ellis, both of whom died as a result of their war service with the RAAF.

I took these photos there. 

 This is the central courtyard with the Pool of Reflection
                                                                     where the Eternal Flame (pictured below) almost seems to
                                                                     float in its dish on the water.

                                                   The Eternal Flame

The Roll of Honour
The red is from the multitude of red paper poppies which have been placed by visitors in niches in the bronze plaques bearing the names of the dead.

The experience was saddening and deeply moving as I looked at the plaques with so many young lives cut short.

 Lest we forget.

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