Standing in the wind, holding Babess as my hair blows out of its plait and into my eyes and mouth. Fainjin, proud to be wearing his Boys’ Brigade shirt this year, and Pearl, selected as one of the wreath-layers, looking smart in her Girls’ Brigade uniform.
The familiar words and sentiments of the remembrance service, the tentative voices of people unused to singing outside their bathrooms as the national anthem is played. (The sense of a missing piece to the ceremony for me, as the Australian national anthem is not sung. I keep asking; one day I will find the right ear.)
The shivers down my spine as the Last Post is sounded, and the flags – NZ, Australia, Great Britain, Girls’ and Boys’ Brigades, Scouts, Girl Guides – are lowered in respect, then raised again as reveille is played.
The Ode, recited in all solemnity.
The parade through the village to lay wreaths at the other memorial too; the Last Post again; tired children getting cranky with what has become a long afternoon.
And finally, the sense of community as, windswept and chilled, we all gather at a local church for a restorative cup of tea (the children feast on biscuits) and a chat.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Anzac Ode, from “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon, 1914
© UpsideBackwards 2012.