Anzac Day birthday means much more than usual

MY cousin had his 72nd birthday on Anzac Day. That's not a great achievement for most of us.

For him it was a significant event - the same as his 71st birthday and every one before that.

You see, he never knew his father. He died in the Second World War at the Battle of El Alamein.

His mother, my Aunty Joyce, gave birth to my cousin Scott on April 25.

My mother wrote to my dad, who was also at El Alamein, so dad was able to tell my Uncle Howard, Scott's father.

But before the telegram arrived, Uncle Howard had been killed.

My uncle was in communications and it was his responsibility to run out telephone cables to the front line.

It was during one of these expeditions that he was killed by enemy fire.

A few years back, on cousin Scott's 60th birthday, he had the good fortune to be able to travel to El Alamein where he found his father's headstone.

It was a highly emotional time - witnessed by his daughter, son-in-law and one of his very good mates.

It's a moment he says he will never forget, and I can understand that fully.

I spoke to Scott on Anzac Day, as I do every April 25, to wish him a happy birthday. He had spent the early part of the day at the Auckland Memorial Museum dawn service, accompanied by his eldest daughter and her son.

It's some years since he went to the dawn service at the museum - he normally goes to the morning service in his home town Papakura, near Auckland.

But this time, he felt it was important to go to the dawn service as it was the 100th year since the beginning of the First World War.

He was impressed when he heard both the New Zealand and Australian national anthems sung, and was also impressed when I explained that I had heard the two anthems sung at the Brisbane ceremony as well.

It's a great acknowledgement that our forefathers and fathers fought together as brothers to ensure freedom was always ours to enjoy.

I never forget my cousin's birthday - and I never will.

Topics:  allen winter anzac day birthday opinion

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