Anzac Eve Peace Vigil 2020

Since 2011 we have been gathering on top of Mount Ainslie on 24 April, to hold our Annual Anzac Eve Peace Vigil. For our 10th annual vigil amid COVID-19 restrictions, Janet Salisbury had the idea to hold the event online. Close to 200 participants joined with us, to lament the tragedy of war and sing into our dreams for a peaceful future. Although it was very sad not to be able to gather together on the mountain, needing to hold the vigil online did have the advantage of us being able to welcome friends from far-flung reaches of Australia and indeed from around the world!

For our 2020 Vigil, we were alone in our quiet living roms, where we each lit a candle and turned on our computers to hear the hauntingly beautiful sound of Glenda Cloughley's 'Spirit Songs for Anzac Eve'. You can listen to the song in one of the segments below.

First, here is a slightly shortened version of the full Zoom recording. If you don't have time to watch it all at once, you can fast forward to particular parts of the vigil you would like to watch.
 0:00 – 'Lest We Forget' singing from Anzac Eve Peace Vigil 2012
 0:52 – Welcome – Janet Salisbury
 1:42 – Welcome to Country – Nin Phillips, Ngunnawal Elder
 7:04 – 'Spirit Songs for Anzac Eve' video including introduction by composer Glenda Cloughley
 15:53 – Annie Didcott’s story and reflections about war and peace
 21:45 – Introduction to community singing
 23:32 – 'Within Our Darkest Night' live singing; Johanna McBride and Meg Rigby
 26:08 – 'Blowing in the Wind' – video from Anzac Eve Peace Vigil 2017
 27:15 – The context for this year’s vigil – Janet Salisbury
 29:25 – 'Let there be Peace' poem, written and read by Judith Kelly, a Noongar woman from the stolen generation 31:54 – 'Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream' live singing
 39:21 – Reflections on lantern walk down the mountain – Graeme Dunstan followed by video footage and 'Spirit Songs'

Alternatively, below are some key individual segments of the Vigil.

'Spirit Songs for Anzac Eve' was written in 2011 during community preparations for the first of the beautiful lantern-lit vigils at the top of Mount Ainslie above the Australian War Memorial. Thinking of her two New Zealand great grandmothers whose 21-year-old sons were killed in France during the First World War, Glenda Cloughley imagined spirit mothers calling their children one windy evening on the mountain. On one of her visits to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Glenda shared her song with Judith Kelly, who contributed her beautiful verse, Judith, a Noongar woman of the Stolen Generation, sings her lament for First Nations women and children. The spirit voices follow the natural cycle of life, where the love in deep sorrow brings the longing for peace and new life. With the city in lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis, Johanna McBride gathered still photos from vigils past and made the video as a meditation on the song for our online Vigil. Meriel Owen plays harp and Nitya Bernard Parker plays bansuri flute, with sound recording and mastering by David Pendragon.
After the 'Spirit Songs' meditation, Chorus woman Annie Didcott shared her own story of war and what it does to families. Hers was a child's lament from her experience in London during World War Two. You can read her story here
Judith Kelly, a poet as well as a singer, was in Bunbury Western Australia for this Anzac Eve. She sang 'Spirit Songs' with Glenda and the Chorus in our first Vigil in 2011 and has sung with us many times. This year she joined us and shared her poem 'Let There Be Peace'. It brings us right into our contemporary world and reminds us there are many places where we need to nurture peace and new life today.
Community singing of peace songs by lantern light is a special feature of the Anzac Eve Vigils. This year, Johanna McBride and Meg Rigby led us from Johanna's loungeoroom.  Many participants sang along alone, but sharing our longing for peace and a commitment to nurturing peace in our communties and in the world. The last of the songs was 'Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream'. In her introduction Meg tells us a little of the history of this peace favourite.
When the Vigil on top of Mount Ainslie finishes, the tradition is for people to walk quietly and carefully down the mountain along the dark bush track carrying our lanterns and holding within ourselves the lament and grief we have expressed.

At the end of this online Peace Vigil, Graeme Dunstan, our Master of Ceremonies, who initiated this event in 2011, prepared us for the descent into darkness, towards the Australian War Memorial. Graeme spoke to us from the NSW South Coast, encouraging us to imagine the lantern-lit walk down Mount Ainslie. Graeme reminds us that the walk down the mountain is a metaphor for holding grief and through sharing it, nurturing new life. His address is a voiceover on the video of 'Spirit Songs for Anzac Eve' that ended this special Vigil. The video was created by Miriam Pickard, using beatiful footage she took at a previous vigil.
Read more about our yearly Anzac Eve Peace Vigils here.


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