Anzac Day, and I was at Devonport again for the parade and service. The RSA veterans got their usual warm applause as they marched along Victoria Road to the war memorial, all smartly turned out and their medals glinting in the sunshine. This year they were joined by Con Thode, a youthful-looking 103 year-old who is the only New Zealander to have commanded a British submarine, which sent an impressed murmur through the crowd when it was announced at the start of the service.
There were hymns, readings by marvellously assured young children, prayers, the Ode in Maori as well as English this time, a particularly military speech this year, wreath-laying by groups both obvious and obscure, and again the singing of the Australian anthem as well as ours, which is a nice touch even though theirs grates slightly, being somewhat boastful (golden soil, nature's gifts, beauty rich and rare...) and enviably livelier than our dirge.
The Last Post was especially well done this year, the lingering notes perfectly sounded; and I looked around at the crowd, from littlies in shorts and jandals to old people in blazers and sensible shoes, all colourful in the bright autumn sunshine, and thought how different next Anzac Day will be, when I'm standing in the cold pre-dawn dark of a Turkish spring on the Gallipoli peninsula for the 100th anniversary of the battle that started it all.