Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Anzac Day 2012: lest we forget

My grandfather Tom
Hello everyone! This is a rare daytime post for me - it's an important public holiday in Australia for Anzac Day. For those overseas, it's our national day of remembrance for those who have served in Australia's armed forces, both during wartime and peace-keeping missions. You can read more about the day here.

The pixies are a little young to fully understand what the day is about. Just this week, I tried to explain to Joshua and India what 'war' was - they found it very hard to comprehend that people could be so mean to each other.

So we've kept it simple this year and observed a few of the customary traditions. 

A minute's silence

The pixies managed to observe a minute's silence - no mean feat! When they're a little older, they'll understand its significance (and we'll get them to observe the traditional two minutes - one was enough for them this year!). It's when Australians remember the sacrifices made by those who have fought for Australia, especially the fallen.

Baking Anzac biscuits
The pixies have helped Mr PB bake Anzac biscuits. You can find the recipe here.

Thinking about my grandfather

I've shown them the dashing photo above of my paternal grandfather, Tom, who served in the Royal Australian Airforce in (the then) New Guinea during World War Two. He was a Corporal in the supplies area, ensuring that goods made it to the soldiers serving on the front line. 

After war's end in August 1945, after a brief return to see his family in Hobart, he was then stationed in Melbourne for about a year, helping finish all the paperwork. That's hard to imagine, isn't it? I thought he would have been 'de-mobbed' as soon as the war finished. It seems there's always filing to be done!

I am fascinated about what Tom did 'up there' for all that time. He died long before I was born so I've had to rely on the stories my Dad told me about it. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for him to tell me all he could recall. 

Once Mum and I start sifting through Dad's family's possessions, I'll find some answers.
In the interim, I've obtained a copy of his service records from the National Archives. This is the cover page. Isn't it intriguing? 

The sprig of rosemary up the top is something which people traditionally wear on Anzac Day as a symbol of remembrance, along with the red poppy. Those men look as if they served in World War One, given the emu plumes in their slouch hats. What sights they must have seen!

This Anzac Day is another first-without-my-Dad moment. Memories of Anzac Days past spent with him are flooding back. 

Meanwhile, my Mum is in Turkey with her best friend. They visited Gallipoli this week in what has become a pilgrimage of sorts for many Australians. I can't wait to hear how they found it - it's definitely on my bucket list!

So, today I am thinking with the utmost respect about all those brave souls who have fought for Australia, such as Tom, and those who are still doing so, like my gorgeous friend Jennie's 'handsome soldier' husband who is stationed in Afghanistan.

We owe you all so much. Lest we forget.

So tell us, how are you Australian Planetarians marking today? Do you know someone who served, or is serving, Australia in war overseas? And for the overseas Planetarians, are you familiar with the concept of Anzac Day? Do share - I'm intrigued!
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