Twenty years ago the first Essendon and Collingwood ANZAC Day clash was played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, after being conceived by Essendon coach Kevin Sheedy.
Sheedy thought that an ANZAC Day game would be a tribute to those soldiers that have served, and are currently serving our country, and a way to honour the ANZAC spirit.
He was right.
The game is not about football being compared to war.
It is about acknowledging the sacrifices that were made 100 years ago so we can live the life we do today.
It is about paying our respects to those who have fallen and have served, the standing ovation during the veterans motorcade tribute signals the appreciation we have for what they have done for us.
It is also about raising awareness, ensuring it is never forgotten, and making certain that younger generations will continue to learn about the moments that helped shape our nation.
The Observance Ceremony that occurs before the game is quite surreal, because the colosseum that is the MCG is completely silent.
In what is usually such a raucous environment, all 88,395 people in the crowd stop to pay their respects as they listen to The Ode of Remembrance being read and The Last Post being played.
During the minute silence, you can hear every spluttering cough, every squeaking shoe, and every wailing baby.
You get goosebumps on your arms and a shiver down your spine.
It is a wonderful occasion to see so many people united.
That is symbolised on the field when the two opposition teams run through a shared banner, adorned with the names of those Essendon and Collingwood players who made the ultimate sacrifice.
It is obvious off the field when the entire crowd join together to sing our National Anthem.
Just five minutes after the eerie silence around the stadium, the ground is once again filled with resounding noise, so much so that you could hardly hear the siren go to start the game.
The passion is evident throughout the entire match, with both teams supporters cheering as loud as they can.
If your team wins, a special day has just been made even better, and you leave the ground happy having heard your club song resonating around the stadium.
If your team loses, the day is a constant reminder that there is more to life than footy, and you’re just thankful for the experience.
It was a privilege to be part of the ANZAC Day Centenary commemorations.
Lest we forget.
Written by Kirralee Thomas @kirralee_thomas