This morning I attended the ANZAC Day Dawn Parade in Upper Hutt. This marks the first time that I have been out on parade for ANZAC Day since I was in the Scouting Movement / St John Cadets many years ago.
This year - as always - members of Hutt Valley Fire Police were encouraged to attend their local service, and I paraded with a half-dozen members of HVFP as well as some members of Silverstream who were with us.
The New Zealand Defence Force were very well represented, their Tri-Service contingent easily numbering more than 100. (The obvious proximity of Trentham Army Camp and HQJFNZ means that Upper Hutt is the 'local' for them. Despite this, Members of NZDF are usually represented all across the region, with Servicepeople encouraged to attend their local service and provide representation for NZDF to the ceremony.
Also present were the local Cadet Corps, Air Training Corps and Sea Cadet Corps; Members of the Scouting Movement, the Girl Guides, Red Cross and more. Even the duty crew from Rimutaka Fire Station were standing at attention next to their appliance as the parade marched past.
When the masses assembled outside the Civic Centre in Upper Hutt for the memorial service, the NZDF behind the Veterans, and then the Fire Service, the Cadet Forces and the other Communit Groups, the numbers really began to show. I get the impression it was a large turnout compared to usual Upper Hutt events and well, I was glad to be there.
It really does pay to be reminded of the sacrifices of our forefathers in return for the free world in which we live, and it is likewise invigorating to see everyone else paying the same respects. It is at the same time a moment for both pride and humility.
So I was there, wearing the uniform of the service that I give much of my own time to, to pay tribute to those who've gone before. And i'm glad I did so, and really should be again making it a habit to attend an ANZAC service every year. I challenge those of you who don't, to seriously think about it for 2008 and beyond.