Today is Anzac Day, the national remembrance day of Australia and New Zealand when people pay their respects and honour the bravery, courage, resilience and sacrifice of the service men and women of our country. Dawn services are conducted all throughout the country, at Anzac Cove in Turkey, throughout battefields in South East Asia and throughout Western Front villages in France and Belgium.
This wonderful and moving painting (click on it for a larger image) appears in the outstanding Australian War Memorial in Canberra. It is my favourite single piece in the entire collection.
The haunting Menin Gate at Midnight appears by itself in a darkened room with background music of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. Reportedly painted in one sitting by a deeply mournful Will Longfellow, the painting captures the famed gates in Ypres, Belgium that tens of thousands of soldiers passed heading to the Western Front. Today, the walls of the gate list 54,000 Commonwealth soldiers with no known grave, a small portion of the quarter of a million lives lost in this area of battle during World War One. The painting eerily and movingly portrays Longfellow’s vision of thousands of spirits of the dead rising and marching towards the battlefields.
At all Anzac Day services, the Ode of Remembrance is always read.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest We Forget!