Friday, 26 April 2013


In case you missed it, yesterday was the day it was legal to play 'two up' across Australia, despite state laws prohibiting the unbelievably simple gambling game. ANZAC day is also the day on which 'gunfire' - coffee with rum - is traditionally drunk at breakfast. As the centennial anniversary of the War next year approaches, and the last survivors of those battles have been laid in their graves, one touching tradition continues to be observed on ANZAC day. 

At 5am yesterday at Hyde Park Corner the dawn 'stand to' was called, commemorating the call of Reveille in the still empty moments of first light that preceded so many attacks. Likewise in Australia and New Zealand, soldiers (largely) will have turned out at dawn to commemorate their predecessors. It started as a quiet, wordless gathering of old soldiers alone, before the later 11am commemorations involving family, dignitaries, bands and public occasion. Now it's become something of a matter of pride for those serving in the Australian and New Zealand armed forces to attend. 

Events a century ago have seared themselves into our collective psyche like no others; did they still remember the 30 years war in the same way in 1748? Or Crimea in 1954? There is something so epochal, so important about the Great War that we have determined collectively to remember it always. 


G. Tingey said...

Now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Renewing their dreams of past glories
I see the old men all tired, stiff and sore
Those weary old heroes of a forgotten war
And the young people ask "What are they marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men still answer the call
But year after year, their numbers get fewer
Someday, no one will march there at all

Edward Spalton said...


Do you remember when the BBC decided Armistice Day (as I still think of it) was old hat and the announcers stopped wearing poppies?

There was an outcry and eventually the politicians twigged that there was some cheap, cost-free sentiment to be milked, especially since Blair and Clinton converted NATO from a defensive to an offensive alliance. I think Blair was searching for a "Falklands Effect" all through his premiership.

Now they all start wearing poppies in October.

Anon 2 said...

Thanks for the thoughtfulness, Raedwald.

It was the first World War, of course. And it began the end of many things ... How many? I truly begin to wonder.