It’s Anzac Day again….. And yes, I know we’re all supposed to be a little reflective on Anzac Day…. but Anzac Day brings up some very mixed up emotions for me every year…. some good, some bad, but mostly a sense of feeling bad BECAUSE some of my memories are good !??! I dont know – I’m all over the place on this one.
Back when I was in high school, I was a member of my local army cadets – 12RCU, and we used to be heavily involved each year in participating in Anzac Day parades. It would start with a dawn service down at Wynnum as part of the catafalque party, either at the waterfront or at the Wynnum RSL, followed up by a march of the entire unit in Camp Hill to a remembrance service in Carina, and ended up in the City parade at midday. It was always a solemn day but was also usually a lot of fun, doing something with your friends on the public holiday and spending the day going from event to event. We also usually managed to finish the day by getting a gaggle of about 30-40 of us to go see a movie together while we were in town.
So while most of my memories are of the services, full of solemn thoughts, prayer and respectful remembrance ( I remember the Last Post would always gave me goose bumps) my memories of Anzac Day as a teenager also include a fun and social aspect as well. I have very vivid recollections of groups of us stomping down the steps in the McDonalds in the Mall in our GPs each year, making a helluva racket and laughing like hyenas… 🙂 I can also remember walking into the cinema to see Top Gun and looking for a place to sit amongst a sea of kharki as the whole place seemed to be full of cadets from various units across BrisVegas. It was always a bittersweet sort of day…
But none so more than Anzac Day 1988… we did the dawn service, did the morning service, did the city parade, did the McDonalds Stomp, did a movie… and I came home in the early evening. A1 was with me that day, and I also remember being very excited about spending the day with new and amazing hunky good looking boyfriend, got to canoodle in the dark at the cinema and everything… anyway…
I was feeling great after an exhausting but hugely fun day, and was greeted by my mother who was in tears. There had been an incident out on my uncle’s farm… three of his small children had drowned in a creek that was swollen by floodwaters. Their names were Elizabeth 7, Christopher 5 and Sarah who I think was barely 3. They were playing near the creek, and none of them knew how to swim as they lived no where near swimming pools or anything, and this was apparently the first time in a decade there was water in this creek. Those poor kids. I remember being shocked, but that the information didn’t really sink in until the following morning when I saw my uncle’s face on the front of the Courier Mail beside pictures of my little cousins. And it was then that the full weight of the tragedy stuck home. Those poor little kids… what I mostly remember about the days that followed… and the awful funeral, surrounded by media, and the tiny white coffins… was an overwhelming sadness to think that they will never grow up.
I rarely think about it anymore… though it does occasional manifest itself in an tendency towards paranoia when I see small children unsupervised around water.
And every Anzac Day I find myself sparing a though for them….