I have returned from a very local Dawn Service. I love the service – a gathering of neighbours, local schoolkids and their families, the congregation of St Mary’s.
Highlights this year – we sang the New Zealand National anthem! Such a beautiful, musical anthem, we were led by a tall, handsome young Maori from the local badass high school. My partner (who would dress entirely in Aussie flag themed attire if he could), sang along beautifully as well.
A wish for the future – that the ceremony would mention the role of women and families, and the impact of war on the community. There are plenty of soldiers in my family, including an ANZAC and a youngest son who died in Sandakan. Also a member of the Czech resistance and another youngest son – a Ukrainian who perished, location unknown, in WW2. My Grandfathers both suffered from Post Traumatic Shock, one became an alcoholic and caused no end of trouble for my Gran. The other was an overzealous disciplinarian, I remember when he died, trying to make a connection with my Dad but unable to make the necessary amends.
And the mothers! Anna Honcharova who spent her whole life waiting for Pavel to return. Did he die of the cold? Of injuries or illness? Of hunger? Was he one of the severely injured who was too ashamed to return home? Where was he?
And dear Eileen Evangeline Chase Morris McGregor – her darling Robbie died at Sandakan, nearly at the end of WWII. She was such a tough old stick, but would tear up whenever she remembered him, how they sent parcels of food to him via the Red Cross, but that it never reached him.
I wish we could hear more stories and poems from these perspectives on ANZAC Day.