I spent early yesterday morning on top of ANZAC Hill. But, I wasn’t alone – far from it. Seemed like hundreds of locals and visitors made the pre-dawn trek to witness the ANZAC Day 100 year commemoration.
I left the house at 5:00 a.m. figuring I had plenty of time to park my car and climb up ANZAC Hill and locate a good place to witness the ceremony prior to the 6 a.m. start. But, when I reached the top at about 5:20 a.m. I was greeted by throngs of people nudging their way to the best viewing positions. I somehow managed to scooch forward arriving in the second row behind the podium; pretty good spot for someone who arrived a bit “late.”
I couldn’t get over the number of people in attendance. The whole top of ANZAC Hill was jammed with spectators. And, there was a viewing screen at the bottom of the hill which suggests there were lots more people below watching remotely.
The ceremony was spectacular. The military team marched with precision taking up their positions around the center monument. An Air Force officer gave an inspiring speech personalizing the ANZAC experience sharing stories about individual soldiers who experienced the fateful campaign back in 1915. An alternating prayer spoken by an Australian priest and a New Zealand priest caused me to reflect as I pondered the fate of the ANZACs rowing onto the shores of Gallipoli 100 years ago. And the choir group – We are One – lifted my spirit as they sang the Australian and NZ national anthems.
Back in 1999 or so I was having a conversation with a few co-workers; the topic – World War II. Then from across the room we hear, “Hey my grandfather was in the war. He was a pilot. I’ve got all his medals. Wanna see em?”
It was Walt. Normally a rather quiet guy, he was showing unusual animation. He was so excited we couldn’t resist. “Sure, bring em in.”
“Ok, I’ll bring em in tommorrow!”
I wasn’t really that interested in seeing the medals. I figured they’d be some generic looking awards; like the kind you get when you compete in a boy scout jamboree. Nothing special; just run-of-the mill – “you done your service” – type medals. But, Walt was so enthusiastic, I felt he deserved an audience and – who knows – maybe they’ll be something special after all; something to talk about; something impressive.
The next day at work, sometime in mid-morning, Walt announced, “Hey I got my grandfathers medals from World War II. Who wants to see them?”
My wife is from the Philippines, therefore I have a good idea of how important rice is to Filipinos. Let’s just say it’s very, very important. But, saying so doesn’t really drive home the point. It falls flat. It doesn’t begin to hit the mark.
So, to give you an idea of how important rice is to Filipinos I figure it’s best to tell a story. A true story. One that I recall from a time before I even met my wife. A story that will give you a much better idea of how important rice is to Filipinos.
Setting: Church Banquet
Location: Lowry AFB, Colorado, USA
Date: Sometime in 1988, Sunday after church
I was standing at the door greeting guests as they arrived for our church banquet. Two young Asian looking airmen entered and I gave them a warm welcome, “Come on in guys. How are ya?”
When I first arrived in Australia back in early 1990, I had a bit of trouble understanding the Aussie accent. The following excerpt from my upcoming kindle book, “Yanks in the Outback” gives a shining example of what I mean.
Note: Book is fiction but based on my real life experience while stationed in Woomera with the US Air Force from February 1990 until May 1991. Characters are made up but most are based on real people.
26 Feb 1990 Monday
Today I skirted a potentially embarrassing incident. At the same time, I discovered a serious weakness I need to overcome.
As a newcomer to Australia, I find myself having a difficult time understanding the Australian accent. And, this can cause embarrassment; as it almost did this morning at the daily briefing.
I recently went to Cairns in far north Queensland Australia and found myself with a free Sunday afternoon. I asked around with the locals for suggestions on a great way to spend this extra time. After a few inputs, I noticed two words kept coming up – Green Island. I’d never heard of it, but the locals know it well. They told me it would be a great way to spend a lazy Sunday while in Cairns. So, like a good tourist, I booked a ticket for Green Island.
Although I never heard of Green Island until that fateful Sunday, apparently much of the rest of the world has … the mammoth sized boat was overflowing with tourists. As we cruised along, the chatter on board was animated, lively and most of it in foreign languages. But, I could easily work out that the passengers were excited and happy to be making the voyage over to Green Island. And, I started getting excited about the adventure as well. After all, this many people traveling from far away countries must know the good tourist spots. I was lucky that day; Green Island is one such spot. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.
While on my Green Island Adventure I took a few photos and videos with my trusty phone and came up with a short video. I’ve included it in this post so you can get an idea of what you’re in for if you ever make the journey to Green Island. If you ever travel to Cairns, I highly recommend you book your very own Green Island Adventure!
P.S. This is not a paid advertisement; just my personal recommendation.