I’ve lived in Bruns for many years and walked past the memorial in Memorial Park 1000’s of times, but this morning I finally took part in my first ANZAC Day Dawn Service, and now I see it all in a new light.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate war, we should do all we can to avoid it, but when our brothers and sisters offer themselves into the service of our country, some offering the ultimate sacrifice, the least we can do is remember them and show them some respect.

Each town, village, city does ANZAC day in their own way, I’ve been to the march in Bangalow and Hobart, these were both in the morning but not dawn, they were both very emotional occasions, where my eyes teared up more than once . I’ve never got up before the crack of dawn to pay my respects at a dawn service.  I was thinking about going last night, but didn’t set my alarm, I wasn’t sure if I was going to go, but when I woke at 4:30am this morning, put my radio on and heard the start of the dawn service in Sydney, the universe had spoken, after all it was the least I could do.

The Bruns Dawn service really does start before the crack of dawn, I got there about 5:20am and they’d already started, I got there just in time for the Last Post, a lone bugler playing this emotional and powerful tune, and the tears started – luckily it was still dark, and everyone was facing towards the west.

There was then a series of ritual words and prayers, I thought about my grandfathers and great fathers who had fought in both world wars and were forever changed by their experience, and teared up a little more. I’d picture my Mum’s Dad, donning his medals and marching proudly on the streets of Sydney every ANZAC Day until his mates eventually grew less and less in number, and then Grandad not going either “its not the same without my mates”, he would say.

Then to give us all hope for the future, the Primary School kids sang a song, one read an essay they’d written about what ANZAC Day means to them. It was so nice to see the kids so intricately involved in the ceremony, there is hope and that the memories of the fallen are in good hands.

As the sky started to light up, the main ceremony drew to a close, the old guys were helped into the old army jeeps, the younger ones in their service uniforms followed and the pipe band started. They were followed by all the other organisations in uniforms, Marine Rescue, Surf Club, Scouts, school kids. Now that the sun had risen I started to see people I knew in the crowd, we grouped together as we followed the main procession around the streets on Bruns, before finishing back at the memorial and dispersing.

So this ANZAC Day, before you raise your first beer or toss your first coin, remember the fallen and those who sacrificed so much. Personally, I’m going to have a sober day.  Lest we forget.