Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

Anzac Day Dawn Service

April 26

My alarm went off far earlier than I would have liked, leaving me in a dazed stupor despite having gone to bed before 10. I stumbled around in the morning dark, fumbling to put on my uniform and taking far too long to figure out my belt. As I stepped out into the morning cold I looked to the sky. Still dark. Phenomenally so. But not a cloud in the sky. Despite looking at the sky past a street light overhead, I could still faintly make out the Milky Way. I shivered against the morning and stumbled onwards.

The assembled crowd was quiet as they waited for a bus. The ride was quiet as we made our way around the perimeter of the plant to the make-shift cricket grounds and general outdoor assembly point. Half-awake workers lined up for coffee and juices. Some grabbed tomato and cheese sandwiches. Everyone stood generally facing the flag raised to half-mast even though the ceremony to honor fallen soldiers wouldn’t start for another fifteen minutes. Some people spoke, but the noise level was low and the conversations sparse. Everyone stood, sipping, arms wrapped around their own bodies for warmth.

Slowly the sky grew lighter. No sun. No colors. Just a decreasing darkness as the PA system kicked in with a pop. The voice on the other end was given a warmth through the record-player sound of crackle in the line.

The assembled recited the Lord’s Prayer.

We were read “Lest We Forget.”

Everyone stood in silence when not reciting along with the voice on the other end of the microphone. No banter. No under the breath comments. No one drank or ate or moved. Everyone stood facing the flag.

Wreaths were laid at the foot of the pole and we stood silently for a minute of remembrance.

And as the sun rose over the horizon behind us, the flag was raised to the top and the National Anthem played.

Ceremony over, the crowd slowly walked to cars and buses, quietly plodding to face the day ahead. No one was exuberant. No one stood out. It wasn’t the early hour; many of those in attendance usually start work by dawn. It was a solemn quiet draped over us all. A shroud.

The Anzac Day dawn memorial service was a solemn affair. It was done to celebrate the greatness that comes from this country, but it was done without pomp and exuberance. It was understated in praising those that had come before. It managed to simultaneously give thanks and downplay the achievements. In that regard, it is a manifestation of the larger Australian ethos. Do good, and do well, but always with modesty. It echoes the mentality of the “Greatest Generation,” the World War 2 veterans. And it was a fitting way to honor the Diggers.

One comment on “Anzac Day Dawn Service

  1. Steve Grace
    May 1, 2012

    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.
    Lest we forget.

    Well done Justin.

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This entry was posted on May 1, 2012 by in Australia, South Australia (Adelaide).

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