Story Teller, Author and Public Speaker
Anzac Day Family Tradition

Anzac Day Family Tradition

Anzac Day has become a tradition in our family. Well part of our family. Although my father, Karel Havlíček, “Charlie”, was the last one and only one so far, to see active military service during World War II. We commemorate not only his memory but also the fact that due, in no small measure to his service, we have the life we live today.

Our commemoration could be seen as somewhat irreverent commencing as a dash to Shrine to make the 6am bugle call. This year we didn’t make it, 5.58am is too late to be finding parking near the blocked off Shrine precincts. Even more blocked off these days due to terrorist attacks overseas. Fortunately, not here.

Despite this, the fact that we make the effort to get out of our warm beds on a dark and raining morning to remember, at least once a year, the fact that people did serve and die.

After the bugle call we traditionally abandon the crowd around the Shrine for breakfast at the Old Paper Shop in Clarendon Street, South Melbourne for a family breakfast. Over the years there have been more of us. This year it was just my son Martin, his son Charlie, named for his great-grandfather, and me. All of us rugged up against the rain and cold. Together with a jacket sporting my father’s (“Daddy’s”) medals, his beret and tank badge. I gave Martin and Charlie a brief exposition of Daddy’s dash from Czechoslovakia, or rather the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, as it was then under German “protection,” across eastern Europe, the Balkan route, then by boat to Marseilles and finally Agde, in the south of France, to join a 5,000 strong Czech group of volunteers.

n exciting part of his life that resulted in us living here in Australia, rather than in Europe. I have told his story, or at least the first part of it, in my book “Escape from Prague”.

Back to our remembrance, today. So many people are involved, not just the dignitaries, families like us remembering, but all the support staff, setting up barricades and controlling traffic. Upsetting Martin trying to do the impossible, get to the Shrine before the bugle.

This is happening not only here in Melbourne, but all around Australia, Sydney, Canberra, Perth and all places in between including White Cliffs and Currumbin on the beach. In Canberra, for the first time this year, indigenous service personnel will lead the march. Despite having served this country in the armed services since 1860, they were not recognised as able to serve until 1949!

And joy of joys, despite missing the bugle call and at least part of the service, I have finished the second draft of my book “Escape from Prague” and can start collating all my research, moving into the publishing stage, before moving on to the next part of the story.

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