Saturday, April 26, 2014

ANZAC DAY IN BRISBANE

It's a fair old drive from Melbourne to Brisbane via Sale, Batemans Bay, Forster, Kyogle and the Gold Coast but we got there safely notwithstanding the (successful) attempt by 'Bitching Betty' (aka the GPS) to divert us from track (Princess Highway) and turn left at Noosa to take a quite circuitous and stunning route via Kangaroo Valley before hitting the Hume Highway through to Sydney ... I digress.

I normally place some credence on the columns by Colin James but last week he wrote a quite convoluted piece arguing that the Australian's had highjacked ANZAC Day and that for them the 'NZ' bit was an unwelcome and unwanted diversion.   I'm not sure that Colin James has ever attended an ANZAC Day service in New Zealand but I certainly have and there have been numerous occasions where the speaker has paid only lip service to the A in ANZAC although in recent years we seem to have lifted our game somewhat.

My Aust VVet b-i-l and I attended the Brisbane dawn service starting at 4.28 am, the exact time the ANZACs first went ashore.      I guess there would have been 10,000 plus in attendance at ANZAC Square.   What I can say is that the speaker , HE Penelope Webster, Governor of Queensland, went out of her way to acknowledge New Zealand and our contribution while the choir from one of Brisbane's leading schools sang our national anthem in Te Reo and English beautifully and perfectly.

Later that morning I marched with the NZ contingent at the ANZAC Day parade.   It was huge, 149 separate contingents, some as big as 500, and it took two hours from the first to last to pass the saluting dais.   It was reported the crowd watching was in excess of 250,000.     I rocked up to be told by the NZ parade marshal, Larry Southern (thought he was a friend) that as I had been an officer and probably couldn't march in step I could stroll along all by myself leading the parade and carrying the NZ ensign.   And so it happened.   The NZ contingent, I guess 60 plus, was fifth in the order of march and the second military contingent following the Australian Army Nurses who were being specially honoured that day.      The reception we received was both humbling and overwhelming.   

Could probably say a lot more but I won't except perhaps to suggest that it is dangerous for Colin James in writing an opinion piece to interview his typewriter.

  

 

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