Sunday, 27 April 2014

Anzac Day 2014

This was taken after the wreath laying. There is a huge screen
showing what is happening for those who can not see very well.
Over on the left you can just make out some of our choir in turquoise shirts.
Last Friday was Anzac Day and we celebrated it magnificently here in Darwin.
What is Anzac Day about? It is a day when Australians acknowledge effort, mateship, loyalty, courage, and the sacrifices made by our servicemen in times of war. On the original day troops landed at Gallipoli during World War 1. Thousands of men died on too many battlefields and from disease. Probably other wars were just as bad but we do not have records of that. But now we know.

Here in Darwin I sang with my choir at the Dawn Service. It was very well organised and the speeches were both inspiring and touching. The Army Band played extremely well. Thousands were at the cenotaph for the ceremony. Seating was provided but lots of people chose to stand by the trees. It is always a difficult time as tears roll down the cheeks of so many. Not as many wreaths as in previous years. Hundreds of poppies afterwards though.

The Dawn Service was followed by a special church service at St Mary's Cathedral.

Then the parade. Wow! What a parade! We actually had the biggest military parade in the country.
This photo was taken later, at morning tea time.
This is the riderless horse, now waiting patiently.
Leading the parade was the riderless horse. How do you stop the tears when you see that? For those unfamiliar with the idea, the riderless horse shows us that the rider has been killed in battle. All the equipment is still on the horse. Someone walks along leading him and there is always a big space in front and behind. Silent. Solemn.
Three tiger helicopters flew over at least five times. Incredible. Low. Noisy. Probably quite an expensive show of strength. Definitely worth it.
There were two military bands. The Army Band and the Navy Drum Corps. The drum corps stayed at one of the intersections and kept playing the entire time, except for a few minutes while the Army band went past.
Who marched? The veterans, of course, with most of the older ones riding in Army vehicles. Wheelchair veterans with their carers had a place. The dog squad. The scouts and guides. Veterans from PNG. Vietnam Vets. All the various cadet groups such as Air Force Cadets. Every sailor in the region was there in their whites. All the Air Force personnel looked wonderful in their blue uniforms. The Army was there. Definitely. They all marched. And they brought their big boys' toys! Two huge canon, maybe howitzers, formed an arch over the parade at the main intersection in the city. The Army showed off their tanks and a selection of armoured vehicles. And then there were the US Marines who are training here. One feature of their display was that someone marches along calling out a rhyme to help everyone stay in step. Different.
Three hornets flew over in formation. Just fabulous. It felt so close. The noise and the sight of these planes brought a huge cheer from the crowd.
The tanks could not fit along the last street so had to exit the parade at an intersection.
See the Navy Drum Corps in their whites who have stepped to one side for this.
The parade was the biggest and most spectacular I have ever seen. So much effort went into it.

After the parade the servicemen went to the RSL for the party. Always a big noisy party for Anzac Day. And they did not let the side down.

There were other ceremonies in Darwin and the surrounding area. There were other celebrations too. But only one parade.

All these photos are from our local newspaper, the NT News. They were posted on facebook.

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