25/04/2010

Last day in Australia - moved & touched (Part I)

25.April.2010 - 'Dawn Service'

The same day 95 years ago,
troops of Australians & New Zealanders set out to fight again the Turkish during WWI.

Today,
Australians & New Zealanders commemorate 'Anzac Day' (ANZAC: Australia & New Zealand Army Corps) on 25th of April.

**
Frankly, I wasn't really aware that I would be here in Australia on its National Day.
Until when I got to decide where I got to go after my 'wine trip',
then I realized I would be here in Australia on this special day.

Towards the end of my 'wine trip', I found that I didn't want to do anything touristic again.
I want to experience the REAL AUSTRALIAN SPIRIT -
that's why I am here in Canberra, the capital city of Australia.

I wanted to see how it goes here on the National Day - on the ANZAC DAY.

Excuse me for my ignorance, I wasn't really into history and therefore,
in fact, I didn't know that it wasn't really a celebration, but commemoration.
It is also due to my ignorance,
I started searching for more information about this 'commemoration'.

Before the ANZAC Day,
I read a bit on the internet whenever I could get online;
I went to bookstore and had a quick check at the books about ANZAC;
I was reading the newspaper which got special features about ANZAC the day before;
I talked to the New Zealander who accompanied with me during my wine trip;
I spoke to the Australians here, and asked how ANZAC Day is.

Finally - on the ANZAC Day,
I woke up at 4am, and I was on the road by 4.30am.
There was special FREE shuttle bus from the central bus station (they called it 'bus interchange' here in Canberra) to the Australian War Memorial - so I was there in the queue by 4.45am.
By 5am - I was there at the ground in front of the Australian War Memorial. Already packed.
I got the program booklet, and got a poppy (a symbol of war remembrance) in hand.
Lucky me - I found a seat there up on the stage right in front of the memorial. There I sat and waited.

5.30am, the 'dawn service' started.
Following the hymn, prayer, and speech...
there was the 'one-minute silence' - complete silent at dawn.
Only the sound of the birds there.
Last - there came the national anthem.

Then, sunrise followed.
I was there still sitting, while all others have left.
Staying there for a while to see the sky turn blue - with some grey & white cloud.
Nothing bright yellowish, as I've seen so far in Australia.
Seemed like the Almighty has also heard the cry from the land on Earth - nothing bright.

It was still very early - not yet 7am.
I was there in the Australian War Memorial 'Roll of Honour' -
watching people come to look for the names of the 'wall'.
The names are the Australians who died in wars - WWI, WWII, any other wars happened,
in which Australians joined the fight on the battlefield.

People who came are probably their children, grandchildren or colleagues who made it to survive.
Everyone put the poppies next to the names they recognized.
I stood there for quite a while, watching & watching.
I started thinking why there was war, why people couldn't really stay calm and make a peaceful world?

So cold - I couldn't stand staying there anymore.
I went for a morning coffee at the cafe next to the Australian War Memorial.

***
(to be continued)

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