“Often I used to help the veterans and the windows get ready for ANZAC Day”, one of the community nurses who came to our house last week said. “But there aren’t so many of them around anymore, so I’ve got a pretty clear day”, she added.
As I looked around the crowd attending today’s Dawn Service in Lismore, I noted there were lots of people aged in their 60s and 70s marching, but not many older than that. The WW1 and WW2 veterans of my childhood are no longer with us; it’s those who fought in Vietnam who are the “veterans now”.
“The first time it was fathers, the last time it was sons, and in between our husbands marched away with drums and guns…“Mothers Daughters Wives” by Judy Small…
As a child in school uniform, I’ve marched several times in Lismore, including a memorable occasion, aged nine or ten, when I collapsed due to the heat. But today was, I think, the first time I’ve attended a Dawn Service in Lismore.
I’d estimate 800-1000 people attended the service which commenced with a march from “The Old Post Office” at 4.55am.
The service lasted half an hour or so, and included all of the expected features. As it’s a couple of years since I’ve last attended a Dawn Service, and so I’d forgotten about the references to royalty which grated for to my “republican ears”. “The Prayer for The Queen” was quickly updated to be “The Prayer for The Crown”. After her lengthy reign, I’m guessing it’s going to take a few years for that to be fully embedded in people’s minds, much like how it takes a few weeks to remember the new year when writing dates down.
My resolution for next year? To learn the second verse of “Advance Australia Fair” beyond… “Beneath our radiant southern cross”…
Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair!