Ok, round two. My first attempt was deleted because my web browser decided to "quit unexpectedly".
April 25th is a big deal in my home country of Australia and also New Zealand. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. You can read more about it here.
I turned up to the Manchester Southern Cemetery expecting to take part in a ceremony yesterday morning. What I should have done was taken note of the date the information was posted on...which was last year!
So, despite seemingly being the only one here on ANZAC day itself, I thought I'd linger a few moments, pause and take a few pics to mark the day.
After a few pics had been taken a guy rocked up with flowers. Ok, not that uncommon, but he was heading for me and he had an All Black's jersey on. Yes, I could see it. A Kiwi perhaps? And it was.
Dave had come to pay his respects and lay some flowers on the graves of the two Kiwi graves and the Aussie lads as well. He asked me if I wanted to help him and I said yes. We got chatting, as you do.
Once the flowers were distributed we stood back to reflect again and the conversation kept going. After a brief time we noticed another gentleman arrive, this time decked out with service medals on. He came over and introduced himself. Dennis, another Aussie was here to pay his respects, and as a former Vietnam veteran, had turned up on the day to mark the occasion.
So here we were, two Aussies and a Kiwi in a cemetery. Despite out differences, we had a few crossed points as well, the funniest of which was the fact that we all lived within about 10 minutes of each other in Stockport, but had met in this cemetery in a completely different suburb.
To be fair, we couldn't have come from more different backgrounds if we'd tried, but here we were, at the same place, on the same day, drawn together by something so much more 'big picture'. While we'd not been a part these wars, our job was to remember. Remember the bravery, sacrifice and kinship of the ANZACS.
War is such a waste. We need to do all we can to be committed to peace and working for unity. It's been observed that how good and pleasant it is when people live together in unity. Community and unity don't just happen. It too requires bravery, sacrifice and kinship. Thinking of others perhaps before thinking of ourselves sometimes. What would a world look like that embraced these values, and even better, lived them out?
After some conversation and reflection Dennis had to leave. Dave and I had a right old yarn and eventually parted ways.
This ANZAC day was really special for me for a whole bunch of new reasons, the chief of which is that, no matter where you are in the world, you can connect with people in the strangest of places. More than that, you'll usually have more in common with them than you might think. That's fertile ground for building community on and forging lasting links of peace.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning (and on the other side of the world), we will remember them.
LEST WE FORGET!