Thursday 25 April 2013

We will remember them

Perhaps the spit and polish isn't as good these days - certainly the standard of marching suggests rather less square-bashing than used to be standard - but full marks, as usual, to the Devonport Anzac Day service for sincerity, respect, organisation, inclusiveness and colour. This year one of the catafalque guards got a bit faint, poor young man, and had to be relieved; the Last Post bugler on the roof was a cornet player on the ground; there was no Lord's Prayer but we sang the Australian national anthem; and a choir boosted the sadly abysmal hymn-singing performance of the public (those of us who learned them all at school getting feebler in the volume department, and the youngsters not coming across them at all now).
It was a beautiful morning after heavy rain through the night, the flags were flapping in a warm breeze, seagulls called from the beach, sails billowed on the yachts on the harbour, and children perched in the crook of the big pohutukawa beside the war memorial. It was a large crowd, from little kids cross-legged on the ground to frail old veterans smart in their blazers, medals glinting, everyone wearing a poppy. It was solemn and proper, and there was no forgetting the loss and the sacrifice.
Afterwards we went to the Navy Museum along the front in Torpedo Bay, really well presented and interesting, even to someone with Air Force affiliations. It starts with Cook's Endeavour and finishes with Bosnia, with in between lots of models, memorabilia, weapons, photos, video and storyboards. Perhaps the most chilling thing I saw there today was this Japanese map of New Zealand - what with that, and the accounts of German activity off the North Island coast, it demonstrates the accuracy of the title World War.

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