Dawn in Bunbury

Silent streets beneath a still dark sky
Family groups walking in ones and twos
Quietly gathering in tens and hundreds
yes, in their thousands.
All patiently waiting for the dawn.

Before the guarded, engraved stone.
The list of names of those who left
This old and close knit family town
and never returned.
Who would be embarrassed by the crowd.

Suddenly intrusive amplified speeches
Focus the attention of those present.
Those left who served march into view
With those who now serve.
Dressed in uniforms and civvies and pride.

Fire and sound bursts from the single cannon
Startling all who were not ready
A minute’s silence bugled with the Last Post
And then ended in triumph.
Wreaths laid out, by families, in memory of those not there.

The National Anthem sung unaccompanied
By a young girl with a glorious voice
And a proud audience cannot help
But to join in the words
Quietly and with private pride in nationhood.

Dismissed and slowly movement returns.
Some leaving early while others look at wreaths.
“This was for your great-great Grandfather
And this for your GrandDad.”
The young of today shown the past. Lest we forget.

2 responses to “Dawn in Bunbury

  1. Hey Archie! Good poem! Yes, this is the one time our young allow themselves to feel that ‘private pride in nationhood.’ My grandson did his first dawn vigil with his Dad today. He and his younger brother don’t remember how when they were babies their Dad was out in the Gulf decommissioning bombs. But I do because my beautiful daughter lost all her hair worrying about him. We are blessed in having him back with us.


  2. In memory of a great-uncle never met .. Edward Russell Bates, died 1 January 1918 Albert, France.


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