Yesterday morning in the dark before dawn, a few of us gathered at the Cenotaph for Anzac commemorations. The weather was just drizzly enough that it was decided to move the ceremony indoors to the Town Hall.
Soon the room was full of up to 200 men, women and children. RSA men added more rows of chairs for those who wanted to sit down while people set up the sound system. The bagpipes sounded just outside the building. The veterans lined up in the front of the room first. There were officers from the fire department, policemen, the local Scouts troop, and girls from Otautau Primary to read official letters from the Prime Minister and other dignitaries. Volunteers from St John Ambulance were there too. I didnt catch the name of the gentleman who officiated the ceremony but he was accompanied by Judith Day who led us in prayers and hymns.
This was my first Anzac ceremony since I'd moved to New Zealand and it was quite an experience. I thought back to my home town and couldn't recall seeing the town gather for anything other than midnight mass at the Catholic Church once a year. It made me realise that there is a real community here and these kinds of events are part of what binds them together. War has had its affect on Otautau through soldiers lost during both world wars. It's important to remember the loss and cost of these wars to our local families.
I tried to get some photos after the ceremony but none turned out very well. If anyone would like to post a photo or send a comment please do so.