The pine tree at the Shrine. Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
Under the clear blue Melbourne sky, there is a famous monument to one of the bravest men ever to wear an Australian military uniform. His name is Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick and he is enshrined in folklore as "the man with the donkey".
Today is ANZAC Day, a national day of commemoration in Australia and New Zealand to honour those who fought at Gallipoli in 1915, during World War I. The word Anzac is an acronym derived from Australia and New Zealand Army Corps and the solemn day here in Melbourne begins with a dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance.
Not far from where the bugler sounds the Last Post and the Eternal Flame burns with an audible hiss in the reverent silence, old men with medals on their chests and a quiver on their lips stand to attention and the young children gather to honour the memory of those lost in battle, there is a tree. A pine tree. A historic pine tree. It is grown from the seeds of a pine tree that stood not far from where young men died in that battle.
Under the shade of that tree there is a statue. It shows a man in uniform leading a donkey by a tether. On the donkey is a wounded man. He slumps towards the muleteer, who supports him with his right arm. The man with the donkey is Private Simpson.
He was born in 1892 in England and as a young boy he worked with donkeys at a fair. Later, he joined the merchant navy but jumped ship in Australia in 1914. He then enlisted in the Australian army. Eight months later, as a stretcher bearer with the Australian Imperial Force, he was in the midst of the carnage at Gallipoli.
From the 25th of April onwards, Private Simpson risked his life several times a day to carry wounded soldiers to safety - on the backs of donkeys. On the 19th of May, while traversing Shrapnel Gully with yet another wounded soldier, he was killed by machine gun fire. He was 22 years old.
This morning, as the sun rises over the Shrine, they will utter the words: "They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the evening, we will remember them."
That is our greatest tribute to the Anzacs. We will remember them.
ME AND POPPY McGEE: I have a huge appreciation for the way Google incorporates special graphics into the corporate logo on its home page to commemorate special occasions. And yes, I understand that these representations (for instance, the famous Google rendering of Lego) are not commissioned on the basis of "donations" or corporate payments in any way. But if you click on Google today, you'll notice an interesting error. The logo incorporates a poppy, not an Anzac symbol. Yes, the poppy is a generic symbol of wartime homage, but it is specifically connected to 11 November, which is Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. We wear poppies in our lapels on November. Today, Anzac Day, we wear badges to honour the Diggers. There's still time for Google to correct this ....