I am glad that, amongst all the noise and plastic in this world, the dead are still honoured.
Young people do attend dawn services on ANZAC day. Funerals are still (for the most part) celebrations of a life. Sometimes I get caught up in mourning the masses’ loss of contact with nature and the cycles of the real world around them… Loss of contact with each other, even. Then something small will happen that will nevertheless rekindle my faith in human beings in general.
The respect shown by Australians and others on ANZAC day is one of these things. I mean, maybe sharing image after image on Facebook is tokenism to some degree, but it still means that this day is in people’s minds. Whether you choose to think of it as a celebration of the sacrifices of heroes or a mourning for thousands sent to their deaths, you are thinking of the fallen. You believe in something. And without getting too Walt Disney about it, it is this belief that keeps the day alive.
It took me years to realise the significance of ANZAC day occurring near Samhain in the Southern Hemisphere. The rest of the year, non-pagan society celebrates with the Northern Hemisphere: secular Easter occurs nowhere near our Ostara, for instance. Many Australians are donning Halloween costumes as we head into the forest for Beltane, and don’t get me started on Yule logs and wreaths in the height of summer!
But at this time of year, as we are watching a new ending every day in the garden and thinking of those who are no longer with us and those who fell long before their time, Australia is, to some extent, thinking in the same way.
Today, maybe only today, we mourn and honour together.
Lest we forget.