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ANZAC Day centenary

The one hundredth ANZAC Day was my first. I had few expectations and less consciousness as I made my way along the shore in the dark, munching an ANZAC biscuit as an improvised breakfast.

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The reverence with which this anniversary is held is remarkable- thousands of people of all ages turning up before dawn to commemorate, in the words of the address, “not a triumphant victory but the sacrifice and the spirit of the diggers.” We were reminded of the ANZAC mythology, the forging of a sense of nationhood from a military reverse on distant shores a century ago and paid respect to current service men and women.

Being the centenary, we had a rendition of the New Zealand national anthem as well, while their four starred flag fluttered, or not as there was no wind, next to the Australian one. The much vaunted overnight storm had given over to a beautiful sunrise and morning. Some words, a hymn, wreath-laying, bugle and bagpipes, some marching, all very understated and dignified.

And of course snags (sausages) and a cup of coffee afterwards, provided by the Salvos (Salvation Army).

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Walking back by the beach I remembered visiting the Normandy beaches and seeing people there, not pilgrims or historians, but normal holidaymakers. It seems incongruous that a beach, usually a place of recreation and fun, should be turned into a vicious battlefield. I felt very grateful for a peaceful life. Returning to the present, it seems strange that an event so ingrained in the national psyche does not warrant a full public holiday when it falls on a weekend.

How did you spend ANZAC Day? Please leave a comment.

See also ANZAC biscuits