It was with somewhat of a start that I realised this past weekend that we had only two weeks left to prepare for this important memorial day before Autumn holidays. It is now or never - do or die, as they say.
We decided to do, and not die. A sensible decision, one must agree. So with little thought or planning, this is what we're doing in our Peaceful Home to prepare for ANZAC Day on April 25th:
Firstly, on the weekend we took ourselves as a family along to the Geelong Art Gallery's exhibition of Aussie Artist, Sidney Nolan's, Gallipoli Series.
Jemimah and I have some affection for this artist after studying his works in AO3, and this series of pictures depicting as a theme that campaign that cost so many young Australian lives was an ideal entree into our commemoration of ANZAC Day for this year.
Back at home, we began this morning reading the first few chapters of this year's read-aloud. It's Soldier Boy by Anthony Hill, the true story of Jim Martin, Australia's youngest ANZAC. At just 14 years 9 months of age, and only four months after leaving Melbourne's shores, Jim would be numbered amongst the dead, just one of so many boys who died for their chance of action and adventure at 'the Front'. I'm not spoiling the book by telling you that either - readers learn of Jim's death on page 4 - because Soldier Boy isn't a book of what happened to Jim, but rather a story of how it happened. Perhaps by the end of the book we'll be able to form an idea of why it happened too, and hopefully then have a better idea of how to ensure that it never happens again.
After all, that is why we remember ANZAC Day, isn't it - not to glorify war, but to remember those brave young men who died for their brand new country of Australia so that we might live here in peace and harmony, and that war might never happen again. Soldier Boy is historically accurate, and sometimes the accuracy interferes a little with the story, making it better for older children and young adults, but Jemimah at 9, and her cousin, the Princess Pea, at almost 11 both think it is pretty good so far, and so we'll continue on with this book in coming days.
In addition to Soldier Boy, I'll be reading one of our much loved Picture Books each day. You'll find our list of recommended ANZAC Picture Books here. (This post no longer formats correctly for me, but I am looking at it on our antiquated laptop. Is it okay for you?)
I have one lovely new addition to the list of recommendations this year: Photographs in the Mud by Diane Wolfer, beautifully illustrated by Brian Harrison-Lever. This book tells the stories, side by side, of Aussie soldier Jim and Japanese soldier Hoshi, both sent to fight on New Guinea's notorious Kododa Trail. Though fighting on opposing sides, it doesn't take long for us to realise that these men's stories are both the same.
Then the two soldiers meet. And fight...
There is no romanticising of war in this story. I thoroughly recommend this one.
Next week we'll bake and eat ANZAC bikkies. You'll find our recipe for these delicious biscuits here. We'll watch The Lighthorsemen and remember my Grandpa with pride.
On the 25th, we'll attend a service, watch a parade and drink our ANZAC Day hot chocolate and eat some bikkies.
And we will remember them.
Lest we forget.