This morning I attended my first ANZAC commemoration service. Today is ANZAC day, the equivalent in NZ of Remembrance Day in the UK.
I don't know why I haven't attended one before. But this being the Centenary of the Gallipoli campaign, I thought it was important to go. We live 10kms from the nearest town. The service at the local town was packed (possibly 2000 people crowded on the lawns in front of the Cenotaph). There was a parade of servicemen from the RSA (Returned and Services Association), and wreathes were laid by every service, and this included a group of Maori in full warrior outfits (which must have been very cold for them as it is more or less leather trunks and a feather cape!).
I was struck at the age group in attendance. Young families, young families and more young families. Youngsters laying wreaths with their great grandfathers, and a group of young Maori / Pacific Islanders singing "How great thou art" in Maori during the service. It is touching to see how this respect is passed to the young. I don't remember this being the case in the UK. We all wore poppies, but I don't think I ever saw young people at the Remembrance day services unless they were scouts or guides.
I was saddened to see a very reduced representation from WWII, very elderly men sitting in rows, weighed down with medals. I spotted a few Polish servicemen (their caps are distinctive) and Maori from their regiments. As we walked back to our car after the service, I mentioned to my husband that the next generation of veterans will be the broken from Iraq.....it doesn't bear thinking about.
Here are a few photos - poor quality due to the lack of light.