So here we are again. 4.45am. In the dark. And the cold. Trying to warm our instruments up, never mind keeping them warm. Yet it's not windy, it's not raining, it's as ideal as it can be, which has to be a first. As we stand there waiting, the cold becomes more apparent, now we are still. We shift slightly, adjusting our weight, wriggling our toes to stop them from going completely numb. Finally the baton lifts and we begin to play. Stiffly, as our fingers protest the movement and we struggle to get a note out, our instruments not just cool but cold. As our final notes ring out, bagpipes cut through the morning air. The parade has arrived.
We stand and observe as there is a change of personnel and drills are performed. The opening address is made. The list of conflicts mentioned is long. Longer than you expect. The thought of the number of battles is galling. Then it is time for the laying of the wreaths. We play the piece through and then repeat it. And repeat it again. And again. By them time we are through we have lost count of the number of times we have played it right to the end. This is because there are so many wreaths. So many that wish to pay their respects. When the wreath laying started, it was dark. By the time it was finished, the sun has edged its way into the sky. The day has begun.
In the crisp, early morning air, the notes of the last post ring out, welcoming the day. And then the minute silence. Apart from the squall of nearby birds, it is completely silent. No idle chatter, no phones going off, no music blaring. Actual silence, where you have room to think and remember. And so you do.
The national anthems of Australia and New Zealand were sung, followed by the hymn Abide With Me. A choir led the way joined by those that have made the early morning journey to observe and participate. Then it was time for closing remarks followed by the final march as people separated and relaxed. The low hum of voices punctuated by laughter fills the park as friends bump into neighbours, who catch sight of old acquaintances. All the while, the sun continues to rise.
Lest we forget.