This cuddly fellow was in a tree right above the church carpark on Sunday morning. It was very patriotic of him because we'd just finished our Remembrance Day service. World War I ended on 11.11. 1918 and every year on that date we observe a minute of silence at 11 o'clock as a tribute to the "diggers", those Anzac soldiers who had died in action on either the Turkish coast at Gallipoli Cove or later, in France. This year, as Remembrance Day happened to fall on a Sunday, we had a very touching service. The children all stayed in the main auditorium instead of going out to Sunday School and as it approached 11.00, we were all given sprigs of rosemary to place on the altar out the front in honour of those WWI soldiers. Rosemary is traditionally used for remembrance and apparently it grows in profusion around Gallipoli.
It was especially meaningful to me this year because one of my ongoing projects has been typing out my father's hand-written genealogy for him. My grandfather was part of the 10th Battalion of Australian soldiers. He'd enlisted shortly after the horrendous Gallipoli campaign had been aborted. Then he was stationed in Egypt and later France. As I typed the details of that terrible War, the conditions these soldiers had to bear for month after month were brought home to me. The gruelling marches, living in trenches, being ordered out to that piece of ground between the trenches known as "No Man's Land," where so many young men were machine gunned down. I think that 1914-18 War must be one of the most barbarous of World History. And I look at my two boys and think, "If they'd been born just about a century earlier, this might have been them." The sight of all the unmarked graves in the poppy fields is always sobering.
My grandfather had been fast and fit and he'd been a "runner"; one of those soldiers whose job was to sprint and deliver messages from one officer to another. He'd had to wear a gas mask, and found it difficult to sprint full pelt without being able to draw a decent breath. The rubber of the masks had given him chronic sinusitis and rhinitus. Of course, I can't help thinking that if my grandfather had been killed in action, neither me nor my children would be alive today! How interesting to acknowledge God's hand of protection on our own lives before we were even born.
We finished up with singing "Advance Australia Fair." To me, national anthems are always tear-jerkers whenever I hear them, no matter whose they are. So seeing this gorgeous koala was fantastic! Immediately I cried, "I've got to have him for my blog!" and we happened to have the camera with us, because it was also Emma's birthday. (More about that later)