Well, I have survived another Anzac Day!
I was up at 5.00 am this morning to go to the Dawn Service at our local Returned Services Club at Doncaster. It was a cold morning, so dressed up in overcoat and medals, Jill & I headed off in the dark and reached the venue just as the crowd was beginning to assemble. I didn’t see quite as many people wearing medals as in other years so I assume that there were a lot of ordinary people (without any background in the services) there to participate. That’s great to see! I chatted briefly with a young man who had served in a peace keeping force in the Solomon Islands. It was good to see him and some other younger veterans in the crowd which probably numbered over three hundred. It was a very quiet reflective service although life obviously goes as once again this year, right in the middle of the period of silence after the Last Post, the local garbage truck plodded its way up the hill with a great deal of engine noise.
The RSL usually has traditionally put on a ‘gun fire’ breakfast which was cooked by the ladies and wives of the Second World War veterans. We have been commenting over recent years about how elderly they have become. They must have felt the same way as today the breakfast was put on by the local Rotary Club. Many thanks to them for their public service. Jill and I didn’t stay for long as few of the men that I know were there this morning . Some were away at other reunions and others just couldn’t make it.
Instead, we went down to a local cafe where we ran into Paul McCrohan. He is an old Comrade in Arms and our children were all at school together. I actually knew a few other people in the cafe, so breakfast turned out to be something of another reunion.
Later in the morning, Jill drove me into the city where I met up with others who had served in my unit in Vietnam and then lined up to wait for our time to march off. We were very late as apparently one of the old diggers had suffered a heart attack during the march and it was stopped for about half an hour while the medics assisted him. I guess it is not the done thing to continue the march and have people step over a person who is lying ill on the ground! This extra time gave me a good chance to catch up with a few other people who i rarely see and have a chat with them before we all went to join our separate units.
A great source of satisfaction for me over the last couple of years is to have Jill, Cathy and my two grand daughters (Audrey and Violet) come and watch the march. Together, they form a really neat ‘cheer squad’. They also joined us for lunch which we hold at the Emerald Hotel. Our numbers were down considerably this year as one of our number is in hospital and others are away. However the people at the Emerald Hotel in South Melbourne put on a good meal and looked after us very well.
In my early years of marching, I would have gone on to another reunion and then probably have stopped off for a final drink in the city. We are all now too old to party on like that any more and it was nice just to be home early after a very early start and a walk that probably totalled 5 kilometres.