THE countdown is almost over to the most solemn day on Australia’s cultural calendar.
Anzac Day is a day of honouring the service and sacrifice of Australia’s servicemen and women, past and present.
It begins with the haunting Dawn Service at Robertson Park, which leads in to the large community march later in the morning.
These commemorations are marked by periods of silence broken by the echoing bugle renditions of The Last Post and Reveille.
After and in between those services there will be other commemorations held across the city, each a solemn occasion with their own special meanings.
They are a chance for the community to come together to remember some of our nation’s darkest moments and the heroes who led us through them.
They are important.
Increasingly though, Anzac Day is also becoming a day of raucous celebration, particularly in the afternoon.
Our major football codes schedule some of the biggest matches of the year for Anzac Day, knowing they will attract full stadiums and bumper television audiences.
Each of those matches begins with a short Anzac service before the action breaks out on the field and the beers start flowing in the crowd.
Many pubs and clubs turn over their floors to heaving two-up crowds to reflect the popular war-time pastime of many of our Diggers overseas.
Again, however, the mood is less one of commemoration and more one of celebration – a jarring juxtaposition on such an important day.
It’s hard to to escape a nagging feeling that maybe we are straying too far from the original meaning of Anzac Day, and the leadership team at the Returned and Services League appears to be feeling the same.
This year the organisation is urging people to take more than a moment to reflect on the spirit of Anzac Day as a time of reflection rather than rowdiness.
It’s more than a day off work and a day to get on the drink. It really is as simple as that.
We don’t honour the sacrifice of servicemen and women by getting boozed up and making a nuisance of ourselves.
They may have fought so that we’d have the freedom to carry on like clowns, but that doesn’t mean we should.
For one day, at least, we must all be better than that.