Pre-dawn on the 25th April, families gather around the world. Quietly they huddle in their jackets, their antipodean accents muffled by the chilly air.
Slowly in the darkness the crowd begins to thicken, take shape, many around weatherworn memorials thousands of miles away from their birthplaces.
A lone speaker take the podium, and begins to capture rapt attention with sombre words on this chill morning. It is ANZAC day, and we are here to remember.
Choice hymns are sung, anthems played with pride. Heartrending stories are shared, tales of bravery, sacrifice and courage in the face of blind danger. Small children, dressed in their smartest school uniform read beautiful poems of love, war and memory, their homes safe because brave young men lost their lives.
Then, as the sun begins to creep into the sky a lone soldier hauntingly begins to play The Last Post.
Quiet tears fall. The rest of the world slumbers.
As the crowd files quietly from Hyde Park corner in London, away to their normal working lives nibbling ANZAC biscuits and nursing hot cups of tea, the side-by-side New Zealand and Australian memorials are heavy with wreaths overlooked by the Angel of Peace. Safe until next year when we will gather again to remember.
At dawn on 25 April 1915, Allied troops landed on the Gallipoli peninsula in Ottoman Turkey. The Gallipoli campaign was the land-based element of a strategy intended to allow Allied ships to pass through the Dardanelles, capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) and ultimately knock Ottoman Turkey out of the war.
Those men were brave volunteers, and so many sons, brothers and fathers gave up everything to ensure that their country and the Commonwealth was kept safe, so we can have the lives we lead today, free from what could have been for many families all over the world. It’s the least we can do to get out of bed early one day of the year to attend a service in order to give thanks.
Pinned to our lapels are scarlet poppies for the fallen scattered through the fields, blooming through the spring, and rosemary for remembrance and fidelity, their heady scent throughout the fields and near the beaches of Gallipoli.
Lest we forget.