As I am writing this, I have just been reflecting on another fantastic Anzac Day.
Anzac Day, after Christmas and Easter, has got to be one of my favourite days of the year. I just love the whole day, every Anzac day has been memorable for me for different reasons.
One year that particularly stood out for me was 2015.
Anzac Day 2015 reflections
I was living in South Grafton at the time and for the very first time I went to a Dawn Service in a Country town.
I had been going to the dawn service since 2010 after I was sent there as a Cadet Journalist to report on the Dawn Service for the local Radio Station. I have only missed one since.
I was in Sydney for two of them. I stayed very close to Martin Place both times and we went to the Dawn Service at Martin Place when we were in Sydney for those years. So I had been to Dawn services in Sydney and Canberra but never in a regional town.
I woke up at an ungodly but grateful hour and walked about 100m to the Post Office where they began the march to the cenotaph.
The idea of the veterans marching in front of the local battalion and then the community behind them on Anzac Day is one of the many reasons why country towns are so unique. The bond in the community is something that is very hard to create in a major city—everyone knows everyone in the country and being together to honour those, especially from your town who served, died and fought in wars where there is a good chance you are standing next their grandson, is one of the many reasons why a Dawn Service in the country is so special.
So I found that so special, but what really completed the day was that I spent a good 15 hours from going to the Dawn Service with them at 5:30am til about 9pm with mates, and we just had a great time together.
We enjoyed a Rum and Milk after the first service, then we had breakfast together, went to the later service across the river in Grafton, before spending the rest of the day playing a bit of two-up, giving each other a bit of banter and watching the footy.
Anzac Day fell on a Saturday that year so we watched about four games on a Saturday. For this sports-tragic, watching four games of footy with my mates is very easy.
Why Anzac Day was so unique to me that year
This is what makes Anzac Day special to me: remembering those who paid the ultimate price for this nation, but also sharing it with your mates.
They died for their nation and their mates so we can enjoy spending time with our mates and that is Anzac Day for me.
For the last five years, I have lived away from my immediate family. I have no wife and no children, my nearest family is in the Hunter Valley—a good 10 hour drive from where I live now and a good seven hour drive when I was living in Grafton, that has been my lot for the last five years.
My mates are my family. I believe when you are with those you love on Anzac Day and you’re embracing the day together like we were in 2015, the Spirit of the Anzacs is well and truly alive and will continue from generation to generation, when mates embrace what Anzac Day truly is together.
I also really love seeing the kids involved. This year I was in Murwillumbah for Anzac Day and I thought the local RSL nailed it!
They got the school captains from the local high school to conduct the mid-morning service, plus it is also common in country towns to invite the school kids to march behind our Service Men and Women.
The Gospel is relevant at Anzac Day
Involving the kids and teaching the kids about Anzac Day and the spirit behind it ensures it lives on (if only we were this diligent about teaching our kids the Word of God!).
After all Jesus teaches us in John chapter 15 verse 13, ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’
Perhaps the Anzac Spirit of laying one’s life down for their mates, can be found in Christ laying down his life for us.
When we discover that truth, we truly understand ‘love’ and understand just what it means to love others. Then we have truly caught the Anzac spirit.
Ben Kruzins has earned a number of degrees and now in ministry at Ocean Shores NSW
Ben Kruzins previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ben-kruzins.html