Every Kiwi kid learns about Anzac Day. Schoolroom lessons are made of the beaches and cliffs at Gallipoli. We know about the trenches and mud and machine guns, and we know about the killed and wounded soldiers. We know about the poppies.
For me Anzac Day is tied to the year more, and means more, than any other holiday. Christmas and Easter are hijacked seasonal rituals, entirely out of sync with our southern winters and springs. Halloween, that candy-coated newcomer, ostensibly celebrates the dead exactly at the time our days are warming and lengthening and we should be celebrating life and the coming summer.
Anzac Day alone feels right, coming as it does in the last week of April when the days cool and shorten and the trees turn red and lose their leaves. We gather together in the pre-dawn to remember our fallen, and I never fail to get a lump in my throat as the bittersweet strains of The Last Post fade and die, even as the sun rises once more to remind us of all that is good in the day.
And when we know about the poppies, there is plenty of good in the day.