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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pinky's Tribute to ANZAC Day

 Lulu placing a wreath at the cenotaph 
“This morning at ten past nine we are all walking up to our senior school for a very solemn and special ceremony to honour ANZAC day.” I informed my grade four class this morning.

The high school campus is about one kilometre up the road and I thought it necessary to reinforce some of the expectations involved in our mini excursion.

“So what are some of the things we should not do on the way?” I asked the class.

Twenty-eight hands sprang up in the air.

“Walk on the woad instead of the parf?”

“Kick up the dirt with our feet as we walk?”

“Step on the back of people’s heels and be silly?”

“Yes, yes and yes,” I agreed. “We don’t want a member of the public driving past and seeing us walking along the road like a mob of ratbags do we?”

“And you must be very quiet when we stand up for ‘The Last Post’ and the minute’s silence,” I emphasised.

“Who knows which musical instrument “The Last Post” is played on?” I quizzed them and noticing the blank faces I added, “It starts with the letter ‘B’”.

“A bumpet?” suggested one of my more inventive students.

I have to say that the ceremony was one of the most moving I’ve ever attended. The opening song ‘In Flander’s Fields’ by the small but exquisite choir immediately set the tone. The sensitive guest speaker (an army lieutenant) told the story of our fallen soldiers at the battle of Gallipoli and had the thousand plus audience in the palm of his hand. 

Our principal read the “Ode to Anzac Day” and we gravely sang the National Anthem facing the Australian flag at half-mast. 

But the highlight of the ceremony arrived at the closing song. A measured delivery of “Waltzing Matilda” by a young male student with a beautiful voice and accompanied by a guitar, resonated over the sound system. When he reached the chorus, the entire hall spontaneously joined in the singing and the school was upliftingly united. 

Did Pinky sing along, I hear you ask? No she didn’t, because she was too busy trying to swallow the golf ball of emotion and national pride in her throat and blink back the tears before the kids cracked on to her.

And I suppose you would also like to know if my students behaved themselves on the walk up to the school. Well… we were so ensconced in our mesmerising Maths lesson that I didn’t even glance at my watch until 9:20. 

I stuck my head out of the door in panic and observed a completely silent and abandoned school. A tumble weed blew past. Somehow, in my air-conditioned cocoon of a classroom, I’d failed to notice all the other classes leaving. 

Shite! I thought. The Principal is going to kill me!

“Put down your pencils and grab your hats!” I barked. “We’re late!”

If any member of the public had happened to see us on our way along the roadside, they would have noticed a flustered, red-faced and puffing Pinky almost jogging along the path with twenty-eight ducklings furiously scurrying behind her and excitedly discussing how silly and forgetful Mrs Poinker was getting.