|Hall of Memories|
We all took part in the Anzac Day march. The diggers led the parade. The school, scouts and other local groups followed. We stood up straight and concentrated hard to march in step to the muffled beat of the drum and the mournful wail of the bagpipes. None of us matched the heel snapping precision of the men in front who knew exactly what to do when the leader of the parade called out in a deep Sergeant Major's voice "paraaaaaade quick march", "squaaaad halt" and so forth.
A sparse group of mothers wearing Sunday hats with babies in strollers lined the street beside the shops. Blue ribbons sold by the men from the RSL were pinned to their floral frocks. They clapped gloved hands as we passed.
The ranks of marchers came to an organised halt at the marble monument and the townsfolk clustered around us. Together we followed the order of service and sang the dirge-like hymns. I watched the soft ooze of tears in the eyes of widows, mothers, daughters and sisters as they read the names of the fallen. I didn't know the soldiers but their surnames were familiar.
As the man at the microphone read the Ode to Remembrance, I stared at the marble soldier on top the monument, a soldier frozen in time, and felt sad inside.
"Paraaade diiiismised," the parade sergeant called. The men put their hats back on and clustered in small groups. We children scampered over to the monument and hung over the chain fence looking at the floral wreaths -- crosses studded with chrysanthemums, bouquets of roses picked from the garden that morning, books for the town library wrapped in brown paper with a posy of mixed flowers on top and the circles of blood red paper poppies with a purple "Lest We Forget" sash splashed across.