ANZAC Day 2020 – Light Up The Dawn

April 25 will still be a day for us to remember privately all those who gave their lives in service of our country. Though many local services have been cancelled, we can still pay our respects to those who have sacrificed for our country.

At 6am on 25 April, RSL Victoria is asking everyone to #StandTo and #LightUpTheDawn as the Last Post is played during the Dawn Service – to walk outside, stand in your yard, driveway, or on your balcony and observe a minute of silence in respect of our veterans.

Australians will also be able to watch the televised national or state service from their home.

We also know what a huge difference all our donations make in helping veterans and their families in the community – accessing physical and mental healthcare, adjusting back to civilian life, and accessing the support they need to make ends meet.

Think of every ANZAC Badge on every lapel in those crowds of thousands we’d usually see.

Maybe you would’ve bought one at the train station on your way to work, or down the street from a local RSL volunteer.

Those donations are still vitally important – so if you can, please consider donating to the ANZAC Day Appeal here.

In these small ways, we can ensure that our ANZACs are not forgotten, even in these difficult times. Together, although we are apart, we can amplify our commitment to the ANZAC spirit.

Lest We Forget.

If you’d like more information, you can also visit the Australian War Memorial website.

Dawn Service Reading

On Anzac Day this year, one hundred and five years after the ANZAC forces landed at Gallipoli, we have come to reflect and give thanks for the sacrifices of those who died in that campaign, and in the campaigns that followed in the First World War.

We also commemorate all those who died for this country and those who serve today. We give thanks for them and for the country and the values they died for.

If you ask what are the values, what is this country, that these soldiers died for, look around you.  These are the things they believed in.

Now, let me take you back to Sunday 25 April 1915, at Gallipoli, before the dawn.

They headed for the shore in 36 lifeboats towed by 12 steamboats.
There were 30 to 40 soldiers in each lifeboat. These men were the first of 12,000 Australians to land.

One soldier in the first wave was the twenty-year old Sergeant William J Head from Ferntree Gully.

The men in the boats did not know that they were being carried into the wrong beach.
They were supposed to be landing further south,
on a pleasant beach with a low hill,
not on to a narrow strip of sand beneath a steep and rocky escarpment.

In the darkness,
twelve steam tugs pull in shore
a thousand soldiers standing in lifeboats.
Heavy packs pinch shoulders.
Legs stiffen, minds race.

Why are we are lingering here,
out on water like ducks on a pond?
Have we been spotted yet?
Surely they hear the engines chugging?

The men peer ahead into darkness,
No sign yet of a beach or the looming cliff.
The laden boats rock quietly
Low in the waters of a calm sea.
Why is it taking so long?

Nearer in now,
the tugboats have released them.
They are on their own.
Muffled oars plop.
The dark range ahead towers
Like a looming fortress.

Suddenly a yellow light flashes
High on the shadowy hill.
‘They have seen us.’

A single shot rings out.
Bullets hiss over the heads of standing soldiers
still packed in the clumsy boats,
too far out to land, too close in to escape.

The Gallipoli campaign has begun.
The key is turning in the lock
Of the lid of hell.

And did young Sergeant Head from Ferntree Gully
who landed on that day
think, as he scrambled up the hostile cliff,
think of his hills at home,
of magpies and kookaburras singing in the dawn
And not of the raucous roar of battle?

He died later that day.

The Ode

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,

Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. 

They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted; 

They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

Lest we forget.

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