ANZAC day in London
ANZAC Day - London 2014 LAC L Graham 30 (Hobsonville) Sqn, ATC
My mum and I had an early start for ANZAC Day. We got up at around 0400hrs to attend the dawn service at 0445hrs at Wellington Arch, Hyde Park Corner. This was a short walk from where we were staying at the RAF Club.
It was a cold grey morning and the wind was streaming up the street as we walked over to the Park where the service was being held. After standing at the service for an hour or so, we went back to the RAF Club to get my Granddad from his room so he could attend the other services ahead of us.
From the RAF club we caught a London taxi to Garfunkles and had an awesome cooked breakfast with the rest of the NZ personnel who work in the London office of the NZDF. The next service we were attending was the wreath laying service at Whitehall, but that wasn’t until 1100hrs. We waited in the Defence Force offices of New Zealand House with other personnel and visitors, including the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Defence Force, which was pretty cool.
Prior to the service whilst still in New Zealand, I was asked to read a prayer at the Cenotaph in Whitehall. At the service on Whitehall I was standing in front of the Cenotaph next to an Officer in the New Zealand army who had just arrived from Christchurch the previous day, he was my escort and took me everywhere I needed to go in the build up to the reading of the prayer. When the time came to read my prayer, I felt like my chest was exploding with nerves.
Let us Pray
God of compassion and mercy, we remember with thanks giving and sorrow, those whose lives in world wars and conflicts past and present, have been given and taken away.
Enfold in your love, all who in bereavement, disability and pain, continue to suffer the consequences of fighting and terror; and guide and protect all those who support and sustain them. Amen.
After my exciting experience on the microphone, we headed over to West Minster Abbey to watch a service. As we were walking in we showed our tickets, they directed us to the end of the walkway. We were surprised as this meant that we were sitting right at the front alter, what amazing seats in such an impressive building. After one hour of an interesting and spectacular service, the bells were going crazy on top of the Cathedral marking the end of the service. I walked my Granddad down the aisle in his wheelchair which made him feel very special.
This was an amazing and once in a lifetime experience that most people would never get the opportunity to take part in. We finished the day off with a tour of London by a very good friend of ours who is a London taxi driver. I am very grateful to my Mum who got me wrapped up in doing all these amazing things.