Until my Grandad died a few years ago, ANZAC didn’t mean a great deal to me. It was an important day to remember those who had fallen in the pursuit of honour and freedom, but I’m not, and never have been, “big” on war.

I always naively believed that ANZAC day was about honouring the war. It was only after my grandad died, that I began to release that I could honour those who fought, without glorifying the battles and bloodshed.

ANZAC day was one of the most important days to my Grandad (beside Valentines day – the anniversary of my Nanas passing). He marched proudly every year, and in later years took my cousin Simon with him, to carry on the tradition. I believe Simon still marches every year in Rotorua, and wears Grandad’s medals proudly, and in his name.

The year after my grandad died I found myself in Cairns with my dad on ANZAC day. We went to a dawn service, which was drizzling and cold, but heart breakingly beautiful.

After that I made a promise to myself to always try to commemorate ANZAC day, because that dawn was the closest I’d felt to understanding the poignancy and importance of Grandad’s memories, and the need for us to be there to remember them for him.

This is all a bit soppy, I know, but I promise you – it’s leading somewhere!

Today I pulled myself out of bed (not an easy feat, as I’ve been bed-bound with the flu for a number of days now) and went to the Westminster Abbey service for ANZAC day.

It was one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever shared with a room full of strangers. The service was strangely less God-centric and more History-centric. To have the choir sing so mournfully for people who fought and died. There was barely a dry eye in the room by the end of the service.

On a funnier note – I managed to navigate my way through 20 policeman, two personal effects searches and one passport check (plus a policeman gave me his number…) without anyone thinking to check whether I had a ticket or not. I’d only gone to Westminster on the off chance I might see something from the outside, because when I called Australia House yesterday, I was told I needed a ticket to attend the service, and 48 hours to do a security check before they could process the ticket, so I wouldn’t be able to get in. They were wrong!

I’m going back to bed now… I don’t think running to catch a bus in the rain and sitting in a draughty cathedral did my flu much good!

This is the war memorial:
War Memorial

These are my Grandad’s medals
Grandads Medals

This is a wreath from the RSL in Rotorua that my Grandad belonged to: