My grandfather fought in North Africa in WWII and then in Italy where, at the Battle for Monte Cassino he was injured and sent home to recover. Two of my father’s three brothers fought in France. Both survived but with the serious injuries typical for their roles. Uncle Swede was a motorcycle dispatch rider and lost a leg. Uncle Dick was leader of a tank squadron. These courageous men would ride in the lead tank, poking their head out to survey the battlefield and relay directions to following tanks. The average life span in battle for the men who did this was about forty-five minutes. My uncle was lucky. He had the top of his head blown off but he survived. My aunt was in the Canadian Womens Army Corp.
So wherever I am on Remembrance Day I try to make it to a commemorative service, and this year I am in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I was happy to find a ceremony close to my hotel in beautiful Anzac Square.
These remarkable Bottle Trees represent major battles for Australian and New Zealand regiments.
Crosses are available for purchase as tributes to loved ones lost and to fund veterans services.
Colorful veteran of the Queensland Light Horse.
Wreaths laid at the beautiful shrine.
It was interesting to see medals and regimental uniforms that are unique to the Aussies’ but I was also struck this year by the number of young people, in sharp suits and crisp shirts, wearing designer sunglasses and chests full of medals. These are veterans and those in active service in Afghanistan – many attending the service with their young families. I could only imagine the things some of these brave folks have seen and done.
I watched the short service with a couple of vets from Viet Nam – the defining battle of my generation. It seems that every generation has it’s war. For my parents it was Korea and for their parents it was WWII and so on. Has there ever been a generation without a war?
The Australian flag at half-mast. I’m often teary at these services and a bit overwhelmed by the loss. I had held it together pretty well on this day…until the regimental band broke into ‘Waltzing Mathilda’.
I loved these beautiful red poppy umbrellas but could not possibly rationalize carrying it around with me for the next few months. Too bad. This wonderful fellow is associated with the Douglas MacArthur Museum in Brisbane and graciously gave me a personal tour. More on that in a future blog.