Photo: Lincoln Beddoe

"Please wear a sprig of rosemary", the lady said
And held one out, but I shook my head.

Then I stopped and watched as she offered them there,

And her face was old and lined with care;

But beneath the scars the years had made

There remained a smile that refused to fade.

A boy came whistling down the street,

Bouncing along on carefree feet

His smile was full of joy and fun,

"Lady," said he, "may I have one?

"When she'd pinned it on he turned to say,

"Why do we wear rosemary today?"

The lady smiled in her wistful way

And answered, "Today is Anzac Day,

And the rosemary there is the symbol for

The gallant men who died in war

And because they did, you and I are free –

That's why we wear a sprig of rosemary, you see.

"I had a boy about your size,

With golden hair and big blue eyes.

He loved to play and jump and shout,

Free as a bird he would race about.

As the years went by he learned and grew

And became a man – as you will, too.

"He was fine and strong, with such a boyish smile,

But he'd seemed with us such a little while

When war broke out and he went away.

I still remember his face that day

When he turned and smiled at me and said,

"goodbye, I'll be back soon, Mum, so please don't cry.

"But the war went on and he had to stay,
And all I could do was wait and pray

His letters told of the awful fight

(I can see it still in my dreams at night),

With the tanks and guns and cruel barbed wire,

And the mines and bullets, the bombs and fire.

Till at last, at last, the war was won –

And that's why we wear a sprig of rosemary, son

"The small boy turned as if to go,

Then said, "Thanks, lady, I'm glad to know

That sure did sound like an awful fight,

But your son – did he come back all right?"

A tear rolled down each faded cheek;

She shook her head, but didn't speak.

I slunk away in a sort of shame,

And if you were me you'd have done the same;

For our thanks, in giving, is oft delayed,

Though our freedom was bought -and thousands paid!

And so when we see a sprig of rosemary proudly worn,

Let us reflect on the burden borne,

By those who gave their very all

When asked to answer their country's call

That we at home in peace might live

Then wear a sprig of rosemary!
And remember those who no longer live!

And I believe thats what Anzac Day is about..

Author: Don Crawford, 2008