Daniel’s great grandfather never returned from the Great War. He was killed in France in August 1916, so Anzac Day always had a special meaning to the Covid family. Since marrying Jenny, they had both attended the local ceremony, with Daniel’s family. After the children were born they accompanied their parents to the ceremonies each year. Jason and Christine grew up understanding the meaning of Anzac Day within their family and the broader Australian community. Kevin, however, had never quite understood the significance of the day and just tagged along with his family but never really became involved.
So, it was with some surprise that Daniel listened to Kevin’s plans for April 25th 2020.
“Dad, I’ve been reading some stuff online about this Corona Virus and in recent days about Anzac Day.”
“That’s good Kev, but is there a connection between the two?”
“Well, to me there is. I was reading about how deadly this virus can be and how many people have died already. That got me thinking about death and how sad I would be if Gran died from this horrible disease. Then I was reading about how many Australians died in wars and it made me think how sad their families must be; especially this year when they can’t attend ceremonies like we usually do.”
“That’s very perceptive of you Kev.”
“I suppose, but what I want to ask you is since there won’t be ceremonies at the RSL or in the park, can we do something here at home?”
“We can watch it on TV.”
“I know but I want to do more. I want the whole family to be actively involved.”
“What do you have in mind Son?”
“I’ve got some ideas and I’d like us to do some of them together.”
Daniel was so pleased that his son had finally found the meaning of Anzac Day that he let him have free rein and plan the whole day.
Kevin took charge of plans and soon had the family busy preparing for the event. Two days before, Jenny cooked Anzac biscuits and Christine was put in charge of making a wreath with flowers, leaves, twigs, bark and such that she found in their own garden. After dinner the whole family made paper poppies from crepe paper and craft materials that Jenny salvaged from the garage and old Christmas decorations. Daniel provided the soundtrack for the evening with is Redgum album and Christine got a bit teary when listening to the words of I was Only Nineteen.
The next morning they all participated in decorating their front door and windows so they could be seen from the street. Jenny’s afternoon was spent shopping for food. Upon her return Daniel and Christine had tea ready, which they enjoyed with the Anzac biscuits while Kevin explained the plan for his dawn ceremony and the ‘gunfire breakfast’.
Jenny was amazed when she heard Kevin stumbling around a dark house at 5.30am the following morning. She crept out quietly to see what he was doing and was astonished to see him lining up all her candles on the front fence. He had placed them each in their own glass or bottle to protect the flames from the breeze and went along lighting them. He then rushed into the house yelling “Everybody up and outside; we need to start our ceremony at exactly 5.55 am.” As each came out of their bedroom, Kevin checked that they were wearing their poppies as instructed. He then handed each a lit candle as they left the house and they lined up at the end of their driveway. Kevin was pleasantly surprised to see that some other families were doing the same. The families waved in acknowledgement to each other and at exactly 6.00 am Kevin took it upon himself to be street monitor and indicated with one hand in the air and one finger of the other hand across his lips, that it was the beginning of one minute’s silence.
After the one minute’s silence was observed all the families waved again and went into their homes, leaving the candles burning on the fences.
Daniel was keen to have the traditional ‘gunfire breakfast’ of tea with a dash if rum, but Jenny thought it was perhaps taking it too far. When her children looked askance at her, she knew she was outnumbered and agreed to the rum being added to the tea, provided Daniel used only a sparing measure. While sipping their tea they all muddled in together to cook a more substantial breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausages,tomato, baked beans and toast accompanied by another cup of fortified tea.
(Anzac Day, 25 April, is Australia’s day to remember those who fought and died in war. – Anzac means Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. A term formed in the First World War.)
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