In the dwindling days of autumn, in the dawning of the day, there is pause. There are little hands in big hands and there is an intergenerational connect. Some of the young people are gaining an understanding of the meaning of ANZAC day. The older people are still grappling to understand.

For all of the descriptive adjectives that vocalise the days sentiment, there is an equal amount of unsaid words; there are no words for some things. So there be silence. That silence the young children look upon curiously. Most you will notice, do not make a sound. They are already aware that this is not a time to make noise. The feel it, those unsaid words.  

Last year the children at Whittlesea playgroup made poppies using red patty pans. The carefully stuck small black pom poms on the centre and attached green pipe cleaners for the stem. The poppies were then gathered on a big poster with the words Lest We Forget as well as the words to The Ode. While the children were greeted with lots of smile and praise, they were also greeted with tears. The children handed out 60 poppies to the residents.

ANZAC Day rustles more than the trees that are losing their leaves.   

Such was the impact of last year, Whittlesea playgroup requested to join the March this year. Playgroup Treasurer Karen Smith got in touch with Denys the secretary.

“Denys was very excited and very humbled by our request to have the youngest members of our community joining in and learning all about the ANZACs. He mentioned to us that if we were able to provide a wreath we could play an important part by joining in at the wreath laying ceremony.”

Karen’s Mother-In-Law is a florist and is helping to piece together a wreath for the children to lay at one of the cenotaphs.

“As this is our first march, we wanted to make a good impression so we came up with the idea of making our own banner which consists of our name in the centre square and all the children’s hand prints forming a border,” said Karen.

The banner took a week to make as the children across all three days could be part of this significant handmade gesture.

Like many before her and now beside her, ANZAC Day is very significant for Karen’s family.

“Not only was my Grandfather a World War II Veteran who was in the 2nd Field Ambulance at Borneo. It also happened to by Nanna’s birthday. Wednesday marks my Nanna’s 100th birthday if she was still alive today.”

Karen has childhood memories of waking up on ANZAC Day and watching the march on TV.

“We would then drive to my Nanna’s and celebrate her birthday. She would put on a lovely spread of party pies and sausage rolls and we weren’t allowed to move on to the sweets until all the pastries were eaten first.”

“My Nanna was known her lovely fluffy sponge cakes. One cake was never enough so she always made two. Once lunch was over we would then move into the lounge room and watch the football.”

For many families, the football is a mark of ANZAC Day. While some people think that this is not appropriate to pay homage to the hardship of war through sport one cannot deny that the game brings the nation, most strongly Victoria, together. The footballers take the day seriously and enter the game with a different mindset. It gives people in their loungerooms, their homes, their local pubs at community precincts something to be able to express themselves.

“My Nanna was Pies Supporter through and through and my Grandfather happened to a Bombers supporter,” said Karen.  “It makes me so proud to not only march in his memory and the memory of others, but to do it with my children by my side.”

“The children may not understand the significance of ANZAC Day or the impact they may have on others seeing them march on ANZAC Day. We hope to instil a sense of pride and gratitude to our ANZACs which the children will take with them as they grow up.”

Article by Sinead Halliday