I wrote this piece last week.
I don’t know if it will be published anywhere else or not.
There is something about the time just before dawn. As the daylight begins to invade the darkness of night, shadows become discernable figures. Shapes take form, and we become able to discern familiar faces in the departing gloom. It may or may not be darkest, but our anticipation of the light of day heightens our sense of anticipation for its arrival.
I read with interest on the War Memorial website that the initial expressions of the Dawn Service were more observed by veterans, while family and others would join in the later service during the day. Today more and more are attending at dawn, adding their solemn observance alongside those who have served.
In those early decades though it must have been remarkable for these companies who were welded together in conflict to gather together without outsiders. In simplicity they would obey the ordered to “stand to”, observe two minutes’ silence, then hear a lone bugler play the Last Post before concluding the service with Reveille, the bugler’s call to wake up. Nothing else needed to be said. They would never forget those who did not return. They would never forget the reason why they had gone.
It is the addition of we others that has required the addition of various elements, external trappings that nurture an insight into the convictions that those who have served know so well.
This isn’t to say that those who have not served know nothing of sacrifice, loyalty, friendship and commitment. It does recognise that those we honour expressed these qualities in the most demanding of circumstances. It also affirms that we agree that their sacrifice on our behalf was worthy.
What a privilege to gather in thanks and remembrance. What a special privilege that the wider public are welcomed among this circle of comrades.
Last Sunday a group of Christians gathered at dawn in Mount Gambier. We gathered to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Many other Christians would gather across the city to do the same throughout the day.
But the early morning invited the simplest of observances: prayer, singing, hearing the Bible and thinking about its truth. The simple essence of worship. Nothing else needed to be added.
In our gathering we affirmed that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were completely necessary. He suffered for our sins. His triumph over the grave is a triumph he shares with his disciples.
The ANZAC day dawn service gathers those who have sacrificed and those who have not to remember the sacrifice of the few for the many.
The Easter day dawn service gathers those who are the beneficiaries of the sacrifice of the one for all.
Both observances demand that we live our lives consistently with that which we affirm in the early mornings.
One bids us strive toward a goal of lasting vigilance; Lest We Forget.
The other bids us rest in an eternal victory; This Do In Remembrance Of Me.