On: Anzac Day

by Donnie Hayden

© 2014, all rights reserved

Caveat lector – LATIN “Let the reader beware”

Dear Friends and Family,

This will be a very long post. I realize that you may have many things that you deem more important than reading my blog and because of the length of that to follow, this post, but I promise you that it will be well worth your time! Our purpose singularly, in visiting Japan and Australia was to meet two of our newest grandsons for the very first time and to be with family and friends we have not seen in a long time. It is like a vacation too and like an exploration to us, of the new and unknown. I try with all my ability to immerse myself in all that I do. Whether or not you believe me, I do this mostly, for you! In much that I do, I think, I must live live inside my head and within my heart and perhaps I should instead, just be living life. I think that I am living, but I just know of no other way to be, then who and what I am. I take things and feel things deeply and my sincerest hope for you in reading this post is that you will find something that moves you as deeply as it has and does. so moves me. Perhaps it will even change your life or transform it? It is for this purpose that I have written the following, as best that I know how. I have written it for you!!!

If I could wish and my wishes could come true, I’d wish I could type (keystroke) faster, think faster, think smarter, use less words, but capture exactly what I feel that you feel exactly what I try to write and that it may be understood by anyone!!!

Dahni

Guhday mates from Dahni, your ANZAC Day guide

Guhday mates from Donnie, your ANZAC Day guide

On Friday April 25th, 2014, Australia, will commemorate the 99th year memorial of ANZAC Day.

Until quite recently, I had never heard of ANZAC Day. It has been an evolving rote (basic) understanding for me of not just the event of historical relevance, but its far-reaching significance to the world. As this is being written, the sun has already set here in Australia and I scramble to complete this post in time, for you of the West that will soon begin your sunrise on Friday.

We were informed of ANZAC Day by email from a family member, before we arrived in Australia. I thought there was some connection between the Netherlands and Australia, but I could not quite understand it. But there was a U.S. connection that I did understand and you will understand this as well, at the conclusion of this post and the video at the very end.

Then, I started to see that there was a connection between Australia and New Zealand, but it still, was unclear to me, what this was.

Then, we were downtown in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, in Hyde Park. There, in this beautiful and massive park stands, the ANZAC Memorial.

Mem

ANZAC Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney, NSW, Australia

see: http://www.anzacmemorial.nsw.gov.au/

That ANZAC Day is important to the Australians, is another public holiday, and not relative to me (or so I thought), was all becoming more clear to me.

I knew today was related to Gallipolli, war, April 25 and 1915 and this is about all I understood. In the United States we have Veterans Day and I thought it was just something unique to us as, ANZAC Day is to Australia and New Zealand. I still did not yet understand, the connections and associations and involvement of many people and many countries throughout the world, with this particular day.

I do understand and have great respect for honoring not the dead, but the purposes for which they loved, lived and died. I remember seeing my own countrymen spit on our own returning veterans from the Vietnam conflict. I use the word “conflict, on purpose, for it was never declared a war by my government. This seems to be an all too often ploy, to conduct, for all practical purposes, war without having the US Congress involved, in declaring it so. I understand that many of our returning service men and women were treated poorly, because of the nation’s vehement desire to protest it; were against it and unfortunately, those that got caught in the crossfire by many of us, WE the People, were our own people; our own brothers and sisters; our service men and women! Things have changed since then. There is more respect bestowed, more honor given and it is all, more than deserved and far, far less, than they deserve! After all, because of men and women like these the world over, every country to some degree or another, enjoys the liberty, the freedoms, the prosperity and the peace that we all do. I understand the simple act of recognizing one who has served or is serving by saying, THANK YOU, and shaking their hand!” If not for such as these, the world in its entirety, would be in slavery, in bondage and not know liberty!

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

On Thursday night April 24th, 2014, I was walking through the downtown area of Camden, New South Wales, Australia. I went into a local clothing store called, ‘The Looking Class.’ I was surprised to find them open at this hour, but was later informed that Thursday nights are a normal time to shop here and most stores would be closed the next day, on Friday due to the holiday.

My purpose in stopping there was to thank them for trying to locate an Akurbra hat for me, which I later found in Katoomba, NSW, Australia, during our visit to the Blue Mountains. I also wanted to ask if there was a special brush I could purchase from them to keep my hat clean. And, having nearly had my hat blown off my head by the wind here, I was curious as to a solution to prevent this from happening in the future. Though the wind was slight and more than I had previously or since experienced while in Australia, where we live on top of a hill in Macedon, New York, in the United States of America, the winds can be quite fierce and on a regular basis.  I do not want to lose my hat!

The owner and his wife were both present and I thanked them, for their efforts in trying to locate a ‘Coolibah,’ Akurbra, in my size and asked my questions. Bob promptly showed me a leather chinstrap made of Kangaroo hide and made in Australia. He promised that if I brought in my hat, he would install the strap for me at no charge, even though I did not purchase my hat from them.

We chatted about many things, my impressions of Australia and they shared some history of their country, the community of Camden and even explained some Aussie phrases to me. 🙂

Bob is a member of the Camden Community Band along with our son Jonathan and asked me if either Jon was going to perform with the band the following morning and would I be attending the sunrise service for ANZAC Day on Friday? I told them that Jonathan could not attend. I knew very little about this public holiday, even though we viewed, the 1981 movie, ‘Gallipoli,’ soon after we first arrived in Australia.

Movie DVD cover art starring Mel Gibson

1981 Movie DVD cover art
starring Mel Gibson & Mark Lee

I still did not understand and because, from a military point of view, this battle, for which ANZAC Day is remembered, was basically a failed campaign with many losses of life!

Still, the day is important enough to Australia to declare it a national holiday. And it was obviously important to Bob. He had a wonderful display in their store window.

Looking Class Store Window Display

Looking Class clothing store window display

The Looking Class

The Looking Class Clothing Store

Bob informed me that the service would begin at 5:20 AM the next morning. I will never forget my response to his question, am I going! “Who on God’s earth would be awake at this time of the morning,” I sarcastically replied. But I did leave their store with the suggestion that I might show up.

I have been awakened often at 5:00 AM here anyway, because the three cats that live here. If our door is not all the way closed, all three will come into our room to try and wake me up to feed them. One even walks across the head of our bed, and my head, to get to the nightstand and will literally tap the button on the alarm clock to make the radio come on, if all else fails to rouse me from sleep. 🙂

But, I decided to set the alarm on my smart phone, for 4:50 AM and give this sunrise service a shot.

The alarm went off as scheduled; I got up and dressed; then walked maybe four minutes, to where the service was to be held at, The Camden Rose Garden. While I was walking, I noticed to my surprise, the streets were already starting to be lined on both sides with vehicles. I saw a few people out, here and there. Then, as I rounded the corner of the street to where the service was to be held, I beheld something totally unexpected! Hundreds of people were already gathering at the Memorial Rose Garden. Police closed the street to traffic and set up and manned blockades at both ends. As I walked closer, the crowd of people grew larger.

Here were the young and elderly people, male and female, whole families with their children (some still in their pajamas) and groups of families and friends all walking towards the center of attention. The morning was overcast and it was not supposed to rain. There was only a slight 10% chance, but after 10:00 AM. While I walked closer, the band promptly began to play at 5:20 AM.

As I drew closer, I could see that the musicians had their music stands with little lights on them so that they could read the music before them and play their instruments. I saw many men and women dressed in uniform, scouts and various youth groups were dressed in uniform and there were several in their street clothes that had medals on their overcoats and jackets. The temperature was cool and delicious. I only wore a single long sleeve shirt, long pants, shoes and socks. Some that gathered had clear plastic raincoats and others had umbrellas, many of which, had the Australian Flag as part of the design when opened. On occasion, the then crescent moon shined through the clouds and the area had the benefit of a few streetlamps to provide light.

ANZAC Day sunrise service, video clip

As the band finished the first song, an announcer over a speaker greeted the people and thanked them for coming and for proving him wrong, as it was reported that there were hundreds of people there! By the time the service was over (approximately 1 hour in length), there must have been thousands present at such an early hour, including myself, the least among them, to know why I was there.

The band played another tune and then there was a pause. The people stood motionless and quiet. A few kookaburra birds supplied some vocals. Then the announcer began to explain the purpose of this service and gave a brief introduction of what was to come, named the featured speaker and other dignitaries that had come to participate. The people and every child stood still and were still. It started to rain and I prayed fervently that it would cease. It mattered not, no one moved or even flinched. A few lifted their umbrellas and some were in raincoats, but the rest of the crowd would not be moved by any amount of rain. Thankfully, the rain stopped.

Youth groups in uniforms marched. Planes unseen in the clouds above, flew quietly overhead, out of respect. Every ear listened, as this memorial was far more than to honor those that had fought and died, for what they believed was right and sacrificed the full measure of their devotion, with their lives. Left behind were families that perhaps, would never see their sons, brothers, relatives, friends, or husbands anymore, and children that may have never known their fathers. Left behind were those free to aspire to careers as doctors, engineers, scientists and all manner of free-to-choose paths, FREE from tyranny. Left behind would be those that would live with privilege, not ever knowing war and its many losses and its many changes that many would take long to recover from and some perhaps, not ever. What a wonderful lesson these children and I were being instructed and inspired with! Many of these children, I found out later, did not have to be there so early, they wanted to be!

The beautiful and soaring vocals of woman, along with the band, filled the air and every heart. One by one and group by group, many came forward from the crowd and laid a wreath of honor with the simple and singularly repeated banner, “LEST WE FORGET.” 

Something familiar as, “We will remember, We will never forget,” and other such phrases came to my mind, but…

…But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

The featured speaker was an active military person. His assignment was to bring home fellow soldiers, those that had completed their assignments, were injured and those that fell from the Iraqi war and Afghanistan. It did not matter from which country they hailed. His task this morning was to express what ANZAC Day meant to him. He began his brief remarks with a sincere and humble apology, should he stumble over his words, if his voice should crack or if he could not speak the full content of his words. It was a highly emotional speech. I recall some of it. His job and his team’s mission was to bring “their” soldiers home, period, whatever it took, from whatever country they may have come from! They joked as the plane was loaded and ready to take off, to an unseen enemy, “give us your best shot!” At that very moment, a single bullet rang out and hit. An american soldier that just moments before was showing pictures of his wife and family, smiling and looking so forward to going home, was instantly dead. Our morning speaker mentioned other similar events, his voice quivered, but stayed strong and true. “All our soldiers, we bring home,” he said, with out reservation or hesitation!

I must confess that I was literally in tears. I cannot recount how moved I was and how privileged I felt to be alive, to have been in Australia and to have participated in this early morning service that was purposed to be on or about the same time in 1915, when the soldiers fought and died the morning of April 25th.

There I was, some 9,000 miles away from our home, in another country; at nearly the bottom of the world, before dawn. I cannot imagine what those in 1915 must have felt that day, so far from their loved ones and on foreign soil!

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

ANZAC Day marks the anniversary of the first campaign that led to major casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand, a rare instance of two sovereign countries that not only share in the same remembrance day, but making reference to both countries in its name. When war broke out in 1914, Australia and New Zealand had been dominions of the British Empire for thirteen and seven years respectively.

But Anzac Day has become a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all, “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations,” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served. though originally, April 25th was to honor the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I.

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

Today, is also, a very special Day for the Dutch in the Netherlands, the Turkish people, the Greeks, and as it should be to Canada, Great Britain, the United States, and in my opinion, the whole world.

“The Gallipoli peninsula TurkishGelibolu YarımadasıGreek:Καλλίπολη) is located in Turkish Thrace (or East Thrace), the European part of Turkey, with the Aegean Sea to the west and the Dardanelles straits to the east. Gallipoli derives its name from the Greek “Καλλίπολις” (Kallipolis), meaning “Beautiful City”. In antiquity, it was known as the Thracian Chersonese (LatinChersonesus ThracicaGreekΘρακική Χερσόνησος).

In ancient times, the Gallipoli Peninsula was known as the Thracian Chersonesus (“Chersonesus” means “peninsula”) to the Greeks and Romans. it was the location of several prominent towns, including CardiaPactya, Callipolis (Gallipoli), AlopeconnesusSestosMadytos, and Elaeus. The peninsula was renowned for its wheat. It also benefited from its strategic importance on the main route between Europe and Asia, as well as from its control of the shipping route from Crimea. The city of Sestos was the main crossing-point on the Hellespont (Dardanelles).”

Source: Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallipoli

After the sunrise service, there was a parade downtown around 10 AM the same morning. Susan and I made the short walk and arrived shortly before it began. A lady close to us on the corner, was wearing a sprig of rosemary on her blouse. I asked her why and she told us it is a spice for remembering and used symbolically on ANZAC Day. Camden has rosemary growing all over downtown! We struck up a conversation with this lady who has lived in Australia for eight years. She was born and raised in Cyprus, part of Greece and she explained the Greek connection to ANZAC DAY. She broke off two sprigs of rosemary, one for Susan and I and withdrew two small safety pins from her purse and pinned us! A man came by and offered anyone that wanted one, a free Australian Flag. So this is the information about my picture above. But most important, the connections are all starting to connect for me.

Susan enjoying the parade

Susan enjoying the parade

1,000's of the people of Camden came out

1,000’s of the people of Camden came out

Girl carrying one of the many wreaths

A girl carrying one of the many wreaths

The Memorial at the Rose Garden

The Memorial at the Rose Garden

"Lest We Forget"

“Lest We Forget”

Though the following video displays uniforms and symbolism perhaps specifically only familiar to the people of the United States, cannot the same truths and emotions be understood, shared and felt among all the peoples of the world?!

“Hey Brother”

In World War 2, twenty-two thousand Australians were captured defending Malaya, Singapore, and the Netherlands and the East Indies. An estimated 8031 died in captivity as Prisoners-of-War (POWs) of the Japanese.

Some 13000 Australian POWs were transported to Burma and Thailand to work on the 420 kilometre (about 261 miles) Burma–Thailand Railway, where nearly 2650 Australians died — from disease, deprivation and horrendous brutality at the hands of their captors. This was known as and perhaps for infamy (in shame), the ‘Railway of Death.’

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

In Turkey, the name “ANZAC Cove” was officially recognized by the Turkish government on Anzac Day in 1985. In 1934, Kemal Atatürk delivered the following words to the first Australians, New Zealanders and British to visit the Gallipoli battlefields. This was later inscribed on a monolith at Ari Burnu Cemetery (ANZAC Beach) which was unveiled in 1985. The words also appear on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, Canberra, and the Atatürk Memorial in Wellington:

“Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well.”

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

The Netherlands connect with and share much in common with ANZAC DAY.

In commemorating the 20th anniversary of The Netherlands liberation, the Dutch government commissioned trumpet player, Nini Rosso and Guglielmo Brezza, to compose a piece of music. It was written in 1965 and first played in 1965, May 5th.

The piece is instrumental, with a small spoken Italian lyric, notable for its trumpet theme. Its thematic melody is, an extension of the same Italian Calvary bugle call, used by Russian composer Tchaikovsky, to open his ‘Capriccio Italien’ and often mistaken for the United States bugle call, ‘Taps.’ It has become a world wide instrumental standard.

The reason for the commissioning of this music was to honor those in a cemetery in the Dutch city of Maastricht. For there lie buried, 8,301 American soldiers, who died in “Operation Market Garden,” in the battles to liberate Holland in the fall and winter of 1944-45. Everyone of the men buried in the cemetery, as well as those in the Canadian and British military cemeteries has been adopted by a Dutch family, who tend the grave and keep alive the memory of the soldier they have adopted. It is the custom to keep a portrait of “their,” foreign soldier, in a place of honor in their homes. Annually, on “Liberation Day,” Memorial Services are held for “the men, who died to liberate Holland.” The day concludes with a concert, at which, “Il Silenzio” (The Silence) has always been, the concluding piece.

Il Silenzio contains the following spoken lines:

Buona notte, amore
Ti vedrò nei miei sogni
Buona notte a te che sei lontana
Good night, love
I’ll see you in my dreams
Good night to you who are far away.

In 2008, the soloist was a 13-year-old Dutch girl, Melissa Venema, backed by André Rieu and the Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands.

 

“Il Silenzio” 

The Silence

But the meaning of all this has come to mean, so much more to me!

We the peoples of the world are connected, by so much more than we may realize. I am not advocating that we abandon our individual dates of importance or our cultures. I am not even suggesting that we all share in some world wide special international holiday. In silence we all should not just remember what people have died for, but for what purpose have they lived.

The United States, in our Declaration of Independence of 1776, put into writing, the hopes and dreams of every man, woman and child for all times past, for the present and for all our futures; ALL PEOPLE OF THE WORLD! Are the peoples of the world all not connected by the fervent desire, for “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness!” We should remember those that lived and died for these things the world over as well as, those that live now and have resolved to give their lives to those ends if called for. But we who are alive and live with the privileges of those sacrifices made for us, should remember that we all desire the same things and to live this way, to teach our children, and avoid any conflict,

“Lest we forget!” 

And these are not merely lofty sentiments or unreal expectations. For the purpose of life is to live. The right of life is liberty. The desire of every life is the pursuit of individual happiness.

Over nine thousand miles away from home, in a foreign country; at almost the bottom of the world, I have seen this and experienced it in the coming together of the people here in Camden, New South Wales, Australia, on this ANZAC Day, 2014!

For this day, they were all a part of me and I was one with them. May I return to my own homeland with this same heart and share it,

“Lest I Forget!

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Categories: ANZAC Day, Australia, Australian Life, Beauty, Family & Friends, Holidays, Inspiration, Japan, The Gathering Place, The Global Village, The Land Down Under, Things that really matter, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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