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My very first Dawn Service was at St Faith’s Church at Ohinemutu in Rotorua in New Zealand. The steam was rising out of the tombs at the lakeside cemetery as the sun rose over Lake Rotorua. In the Church, the glass window showed Christ walking on water.

He is portrayed wearing a traditional Maori Cloak and it was as if he was walking from Hinemoa Island to Ohinemutu.

It was bitterly cold; the air was still and the mist just starting to lift off the lake.

As the bugler sounded out the Last Post, I felt chills throughout my body – not from the cold, but from the intense emotional atmosphere that surrounded me. Tears welled up from within me and I felt an overwhelming sense of Pride, Loss, Grief, Patriotism and genuine Humility.

I was 15 years old.

 

 I stood there in the cold morning at dawn and I had what could be called a religious moment.  I understood. I felt it. I knew it. 

I became a Patriot. 

It is a strange thing to say really. To declare that one became a " Patriot. "  But I did. That morning. Over 50 years ago. 

I have often wondered if religious enlightenment is like this? That feeling, that tremendous awakening? That knowledge that it is just RIGHT?  

All I know is that, at that moment, on that lakefront, at dawn, on the 25th of April 1970 I became a Patriot. 

Since then, I have found times when my " patriotic " enlightenment has eluded me.  

Yet I seem to gravitate back to that morning all those years ago. Later, on my way back to Ngongotaha, I could not speak. I did not wish to speak. I needed to be silent and contemplative. That day, all those years ago, I changed forever. I became not only a patriot, but also an adult.

The sheer enormity of what had led me to stand in the frigid Rotorua Dawn air was too huge for me to come to grips with. It was as if I had been confronted with Reality and the true essence of Courage, Fortitude, Honour and Sacrifice.

I had been with the family of a friend and we returned to their home.  Her mother was a kindly, bubbly lady. She had been up, before dawn to ensure that we enjoyed the most significant ANZAC tradition.  The Biscuit. 

In that cold autumnal air, I walked into a kitchen full of warmth.  The hearth bedecked with images of men, boys and heroes. Small crocheted flags and embroidered love tokens of lives gone away, into the mist of memory. 

I ate some freshly baked ANZAC biscuits. Crunchy, Snappy and very nice. 

The ANZAC biscuit was born in hardship.Think on that, Woolworths. 

Back when they first surfaced, the humble Anzac biscuit reflected the time in which they were created. No eggs. Because many poultry farmers had risen to the call to head off to fight and eggs were very scarce.

There are so many stories about our humble biscuit. No one really knows whether they were sent to our troops, or merely baked as fundraisers. My limited research tells me that they had little sugar, no eggs, golden syrup and heaps of rolled oats.

They were humble. Honest Decent. Like Us.

Now, the ANZAC biscuit is banned from Woolworths because it is what? Offensive? Why? 

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I am no longer the young 15 year old girl who attended that dawn service in Rotorua all those decades ago. I have married, divorced and lived a life that has been rich and poor in equal measures. But I tell you what... I am bloody angry that my biscuit is banned from a supermarket that PRETENDS to be Australian.  

What is wrong with us? As a Nation? Are we so multicultural that we have forgotten what Australia is? 

Yes. That is exactly it. Australia is no longer Australian. 

 

What I do know is that I can recognise something that is right and something that is wrong.

Today, what is happening to our patriots, to our veterans, to our defenders who perished for us to live, well, it is just WRONG.

I remember when Australian Lives and New Zealand Lives mattered. 

Let us return to the old Recipes and save our traditions.

If we do not, then the Last Post may be more prophetic than we realise.

Lest We Forget.

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patriot@patriotrealm.com

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