This morning we stood in the dark and the rain and the cold to remember those who suffered much worse in order to pave a path of peace for generations to come. With 7 degrees showing on the thermometer and rain falling heavily, it would have been quite easy to roll over, pull up the blanket and not bother at all. But like many Australians, ANZAC Day is important to us and it’s importance is something that the hubby and I want to instil in our girls from a very young age. It’s important for them to know and to feel gratitude for the sacrifices our ANZACs made for our Country. And in all reality, the discomfort of standing in the cold and wet for an hour really doesn’t compare!
I realised earlier this week that I have been attending either the Dawn Service or the daytime ANZAC Day service for nearly thirty years! Thirty years!!! My first memory of ANZAC Day was marching in a parade as a part of my primary school recorder band in year three. We had to play When the Saints Go Marching In and Anchors Away amongst other marching tunes – in fact, I can still pick up a recorder and play Anchors Away today!
But today, there was no marching or recorders as I was merely a participant in our local Dawn Service, the seventh since we moved here. Unfortunately, the hubby didn’t make it home in time to attend this year having to pull over on the side of the road three hours away. Over the past four years, we have started a family tradition with my sister-in-law to go to Dawn Service together. If the respective hubbies can make it they do (her hubby is a truck driver too – it’s clearly a family thing!), and if they can’t it’s just us. This year, as her hubby was in Melbourne to watch the AFL ANZAC Day clash, it was the girls who represented this year, with Miss B racking up her third Dawn Service and Miss A (who was so snuggled into the little blanket cave we had created to keep her dry that she fell asleep!) participating in her first. We continued the tradition of going back to to the sister-in-law’s place for pancakes afterwards.
With umbrellas and ponchos aplenty, the community came out in force and it was great to see so many families bringing kids along, even the bubbas and toddlers. After last year’s service I walked away a little disappointed after hearing the mutterings and feeling the greasy eyeballing of certain people who clearly felt that bring kids to Dawn Service was not an appropriate thing to do. Which is something I fundamentally disagree with. As a parent I acknowledge the solemnity of the occasion and deliberately stand to the back of the masses so that I can walk away if my child cries or makes a noise. Last year, I actually had a little argy bargy with an older couple who were shaking their head at me when Miss B was protesting a little at being confined (as 18 month olds are wont to do) and giving me death glares as I tried to get Miss B to quieten. As people dispersed from the service, the lady said loud enough that I could hear that children shouldn’t be allowed at Dawn Service.
Although I wanted to respond loudly, I resisted and walked up to the couple and quietly retorted something along the lines of – if children didn’t attend they’d be complaining that the youth of today never showed any respect and how did they expect children to learn and understand the significance of ANZAC Day if they weren’t able to participate? I finished off by suggesting that perhaps they worry about their own behaviour and the example that they were setting before they worried about the parenting decisions that we made.
We know that we could take our children to the day time service and it would probably be an easier option to do so, but we made the conscious decision to attend Dawn Service for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is the discomfort factor; of making our girls feel, even if it’s just for one little moment in a year, that being cold or wet or being woken up early is a small price to pay for the freedoms that we take for granted today. We know that they won’t understand or recognise the significance now, but it’s a tradition that we hope to instil in our family to help shape the values of these little people in our lives.
As we finished the service this year and got ready to go, Miss B called me down to her level and whispered ‘Mummy, everyone is so sad’ which made me a little bit proud if I’m honest. She may not know the significance of today, but she can read a crowd (in the dark) and recognise that as a collective, we’ve come together to commemorate something special. And I look forward to sharing the story of the ANZACs with her as she grows so that she can demonstrate her gratitude for the life we are lucky enough to live and appreciate her role in keeping our history alive.
Do you take your children along to significant commemorative or historical events like ANZAC Day or Dawn Service? What other traditions are you trying to create for your family?