THE bugle soars then falls silent.
It’s a cold and dark April morning and hundreds of people are huddled in around the city’s memorial for one of the Australia’s most enduring rituals.
They pause to remember one thing and many things.
The young man remembers in sepia – he thinks of the old photos on his grandfather’s mantlepiece, the war movies he’s seen, all those grainy black and white images.
The middle-aged mum tries to imagine what it would have felt like to have to kiss your son goodbye, knowing he may never return home.
The old Digger thinks in vivid colour and his tears are real.
His mind strays to the theatre of war, to the mates he’s lost, to the things he saw, those things he still can’t talk about seven decades on.
This profoundly moving event played out in towns and villages across the Riverina on Tuesday. It was only a few short generations ago these communities were confronted by the horrible human toll of war.
Anzac Day tells a story greater than us all, a story of courage, strength and sacrifice.
It’s not about political correctness or tokenism, it’s about something far more real.
At its core, it’s about ordinary people thrust into an extraordinary situation.
They were young men and women with the same dreams and fears as the rest of us.
They lived in the same town, the same street, even the same homes as we do.
But they were delivered into an abyss so hellish, so foreign, that most of us could never come close to comprehending it.
They were fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters standing up and declaring “some things are worth fighting for”.
And at a time when megalomaniacal leaders in far-flung countries are inching the world closer to war, we should remember that for all its ugliness, war is sometimes unavoidable.
It is, of course, your right to believe Anzac Day glorifies battle.
But never forget your freedom to question such a cherished institution was forged in the crucible of war by young men who fought to preserve that very freedom.
The sight of thousands of locals lining Baylis Street to pay their respect is living proof of the place Anzac Day continues to hold in our collective hearts.
Lest we forget.