Yesterday was Anzac day here in Australia
Why is this day so special to Australians?
When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only fourteen years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. They landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.
Though the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives of capturing Constantinople and knocking Turkey out of the war, the Australian and New Zealand troops' actions during the campaign bequeathed an intangible but powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as an "Anzac legend" became an important part of the national identity of both nations. This shaped the ways they viewed both their past and their future.
Anzac day is celebrated by all and we have morning memorial services throughout the country some of the services in the capital cities attract 40,000 plus people and we have one football match which is regarded as the second biggest match of the year behind the Grandfinal and its a game between Collingwood and Essendon the same 2 teams every year and it regually attractes 90,000 plus every year and yesterday was no exception with my team Collingwood winning.
There was the usual service in my town and the surrounding towns but the service in briagolong had special meaning yesterday as it is where Private Kovco lives and will be burried and his body arrives back from Iraq tommorow
Anzac Day in Briagolong is supposed to be about honouring long-dead heroes whose names are etched in the stone of the town's cenotaph.
It isn't supposed to be about young men like Jake Kovco whose name appeared on mourning cards attached to the wreaths laid in his honour by his wife and his parents at the same cenotaph.
Private Kovco became the first member of the Australian armed forces to die in the current Iraq conflict when he accidentally shot himself last Friday.
His body is due to return home later this week.
In his home town in East Gippsland, almost the entire community of 350 turned out to remember him.
They marched from the local RSL rooms - a shrine in itself to the town's war dead - to Anzac Park, a few hundred metres along the road.
A pipe band doing its third march for the day arrived from nearby Sale to lead the biggest turnout in the little town in more than 20 years.
It was a group swelled by Private Kovco's wife Shelley, his children Tyrie, four, and Alana, 11 months, and his parents Martin and Judy.
Briagolong RSL president Brian Adams offered the usual Anzac tributes and, as he asked Private Kovco's family to come forward, the crowd standing in autumn sun in the little park all seemed to drop their eyes together.
"This is unbelievable," said one of Private Kovco's schoolmates.
"Jake can't be dead, he's my mate ... he's always been my mate."
When Shelley Kovco, with her son in his army camouflage hat and clutching a set of military ID tags, stepped up to the monument with their wreath, the whole town dabbed at its tears and a flight from the nearby RAAF base at Sale flew overhead.
As they walked away, their family and the town embraced them.
The family asked that the words Shelley Kovco wrote on her memorial card be kept private.
The card accompanying the 25 red roses - one for each year of his life - laid by his parents asked God to "wrap you in his arms as we have".
"We are so proud of you. Miss you forever. Love you the most."
As a faltering rendition of the Last Post played, Shelley Kovco knelt behind a tree and clutched her children to her.
Her brother stood guard close by and her mum hovered near her side.
They must endure it all again next week when Private Kovco returns to the same little town at the foot of the high plains.
Then they wrapped up an Anzac Day ceremony that had gone a little longer than usual with an invitation to come back to the RSL "Log Cabin" for a cup of tea and some sandwiches - and some two-up.