Though this was my third ANZAC Day in Australia, it was our first in Sydney. For the last two years, the holiday fell over a long weekend, so we took trips out of town. Both years, we’ve watched the coverage of the sunrise ceremonies in Australia, Gallipoli and France, as well as parts of the Sydney parade, and we always said that we’d like to go to the parade when we had the chance.
This year, the weather was lovely -though quite windy for the poor sign carriers and hat-wearers – and we had no reason not to go to the parade. We met up with Mimi and Joe in front of Town Hall, and we watched the entire parade – nearly four hours.
There were a lot of bagpipe groups and local bands, and, I was interested to note that we heard at least five times as many rounds of “Waltzing Matilda” as of the actual national anthem, “Advance Australia Fair.” It’s clear which song resides in the hearts of the people, even if its anthem status is unofficial … and it is quite a bit more rousing.
Music and spectacle aside, the parade is really about the veterans and active service people. It was staggering to see how many people were marching, especially when you consider that this was just one parade in one city in one country. Not to get all political, but one does reflect on the absolute senselessness of most of the wars and conflicts we’ve sent brave men and women to fight and lose their lives or health in. I was overwhelmed and teary at various points, reflecting on the enormity of it all, and how thankful I am for the service that all of the people marching here had made. How wonderful it would be if these commemorations could help us to be a more peaceful race.
At the end of the parade, there were contingents of service people from a number of different countries, including the U.S., and we clapped loudly for them. We’ve been allies for a long time. But, we clapped earnestly for everyone, as it doesn’t really matter which country you represent – the service and sacrifice remains the same.
|This group is honoring the “Under 16s” who served in WWII.
I read today that one Australian boy who died was only 14. Can you even imagine?