ANZAC Day marked in Dorrigo

IN DORRIGO, some people said it was the most personal and moving ANZAC commemoration since the years of the Vietnam War.

Perhaps it was self isolation and distancing from others; an absence of crowds, noise, parades and speeches.

People had time to think, to remember, to be alone and all of this before the light came.

At the Monument, veterans and families of veterans stood well apart for The Ode, Last Post, Reveille and The Silence. Private layings of wreaths, flowers and rosemary followed and the Remembrance ended with the piping of The Lament.

But, it was away from this formal ceremony, in the streets and lanes of the town and on country roads that a far different and deeply moving keeping of ANZAC Day that was privately observed under heavy trees, in front of a lattice gate, an elegant pyramid of glass, dimly lit; perhaps a treasured remnant from days of conservatories or black tie parties.

And further along, battered, rusted and with a permanent lean to the left, a Tilley Lantern, smelling of kero, in need of a wick trim but its link with war time not lost on those who had been there.

In a well lighted street two tiny handmade lanterns and a banner with the flag, Lest We Forget and three diggers wearing slouch hats.

At the edge of the main road, near a caravan park, a young couple, perhaps travellers, with a white haired, excited daughter, all three animated and waiting for the sun to come over Dome Mountain.

In front of them a gaggle of slim, white dinner candles from goodness knows where, at odd angles but no less authentic than the Eternal Flame.

On a country road, surrounded by trees and at the road gate a farmer, beside his half lit ute, standing "at ease", (a faint suggestion of military training years before), alone and hardly noticeable in the dim light; a reminder of generations of young men and women from farms and country towns who went off to war.

And to one side, homemade but important to him, a cluster of Flanders Poppies.

Further along a group of neighbours at the road side, well organised with recorded music, flags and all the trappings of ANZAC, carved poppies on white pegs, each bearing the name of a loved one from some distant conflict and one woman neatly clad in dressing gown and winter PJs.

Elsewhere in driveways, lanes, front gates, gardens and at cattle grids flames burned in memory and recognition; some ornate and carefully made, others simple, humble, and a few just tea candles on bare earth.

Some had an honour guard of relatives, comrades in arms or children; some burned alone.

None was greater or lesser than the other. In the spirit of the day all were equal ... and deep.

Amid all of this, and half a lifetime from the parades and milling crowds, the noise of bands and old men with medals and wheelchairs ... a certainty emerged: "They" would never be forgotten.