Today is Anzac Day, one of Australia's national days of remembrance for those who served our country in time of war.
When I was a little boy in the 1960s I remember watching Melbourne's Anzac Day marches on television. There I saw the elder World War One veterans, dwindling in numbers, unable to walk the route and conveyed in open cars. When I was in my teens they were already almost absent. World War Two veterans were robust in numbers, but the crowds lining the march route along Swanston Street, St. Kilda Road and up the Shrine of Remembrance were sparse indeed.
I thought Anzac Day would eventually die out as vets expired and the public lost interest.
But in fact the opposite is the case. Anzac Day enjoys renewed vigor throughout Australia.
Geoffrey Blainey has said of Anzac Day that.
"It has risen and waned and risen, and it will wane and rise again."
Some, like Professor Marilyn Lake, think there is too much vigor around Anzac Day which has led to a diminution of other chapters in Australia's history and increasing militarism. It is becoming a minor battle in the history wars.
This time last year I had an exchange of emails with Professor Lake about her views. I have great respect for her views and found her a gracious correspondent - and I think much of what she says is correct.
This morning I was at our Sunday morning swimming club which is held in the premises of a large registered club. A club which was originally established by returned service people from World War Two. Today is a big day at the club. Recognition of Anzac Day includes games of two-up played for gambling stakes and a dawn service had already been held.
I saw old men and women wearing their service medals and having a quiet time of reflection over a cup of tea or coffee mixed in with younger people in their finery come for a day of gambling and drinking.
It does not insult my sensibilities to see returned service people wearing their medals, proudly, for one or two days a year. Nor does it insult my sensibilities to see people downing rum and coca-cola at 10 o-clock on a Sunday morning.
This is a great country to live in.
And the war dead?Their name liveth forever more.
No matter what people say or do.