When I was younger, I had no real interest in ANZAC Day. I knew that I’d had a great grandfather killed in WWI, and Mum’s father fought as well. There were also uncles and various other more distant family members who had participated in WWII. Pa, Dad, and I were all just a bit too young to take part in any of the major conflicts, and, even though my brothers, friends and I used to play “war” a lot in the scrub, around our house, the real stuff has never seemed worth spending time on.
However, when I worked in Bali, the Australian Consulate held a dawn service each year, and folk from Bali International School were the mainstays. It also coincided with a bit of re-inventing of ANZAC Day in Australia, as a day to remember all those who have fallen, and what it was really like, rather than putting veterans on some sort of pedestal. So, it was good that, when we moved to Surabaya, we also could attend a dawn service. The Australian Army had a couple of members in the “village” (helping the Indonesian Navy with its aeroplanes!) so there was support (and money for a slap-up, buffet breakfast).
The Army withdrew, and, last year, ANZAC Day was upon us, before I realized that no-one had done any thing. This year, I mentioned it to one of my colleagues, and he took it on with gusto. We had a lovely service this morning, as a consequence. Most participants were work colleagues, but there were a couple of others, and a visitor, from Jakarta, to swell the ranks to about 20. My office staff had organised a second rope and pulley on a flag pole, for the NZ flag, my colleague had given me the bugle pieces and anthems as mp3’s (to put on the iPod) and had also organised a “bring a plate” breakfast. Two of us performed Eric Bogle’s “And the band played Waltzing Matilda”, and we did all the traditional bits of the service.
Breakfast was very good. Our Muslim pembantus (maids) cooked bacon and eggs, and we has lamingtons, butterfly cakes and Anzac biscuits to go with the juice and coffee. We drifted away before 7am, as the School began to come to life, for the last day of the working week.