photograph by John and Barb Piggott
I grew up in a small country seaside town in NSW, where the war monument took pride of place in the bottom corner of our school grounds, at the main intersection in town. It was suitably fenced off, and we were always taught to respect it. We were too young to understand what war really was, or where ANZAC Cove was...it was just over there... not in Australia. That meant not on the same page as Australia was, in our blue covered school Atlas, so it must have been a long way away. Papua New Guinea however was close by, so we more or less understood that it was at the top of Australia... no Google maps in the '50s. That's where Dad's three brothers had fought.
We went to the morning services only, as the dawn service was only for the returned soldiers in the main then. We could never understand why they needed to have two services, after all we held a march before we laid wreaths at the war memorial. It was with sombre faces that the chosen children would lay a wreath. Then it was three steps backwards, bow your head and wait... for either your parents, or a member of the RSL (Returned Services League), to tap you gently on the shoulder and you would return to your place. I can still hear the haunting sounds of The Last Post being played on the bugle, accompanied by quiet sobbing from many gathered around, particularly one of the older women, who had lost three sons in WWI. She held her head high, but the tears rolled freely down her cheeks. Hers was always the last wreath to be laid. Each year, she would place a wreath of hand made red crepe poppies, with three white poppies in the centre, one for each son. Then she would quietly take the sprig of rosemary from her dress and lay it at the base of the memorial on the side where her son's names were and walk home alone. She had many friends, but kindly declined their offers of company and spent this day alone. When she passed away, her grave was honoured with white handmade crepe paper poppies... and a sprig of rosemary.
* This is a post I wrote some years ago and have reblogged to fit in with the suggestion of military involvement. I have given facts and figures in other posts on That Moment In Time.