DAY OF HONOUR
Community turns out to remember those who served
REMEMBRANCE Day is fast approaching Anzac Day in community support to honour those who have served and those who have died in the service of their country.
Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday morning in Wangaratta, Whitfield and Oxley for the traditional service which originally marked the date on which the Great War ended, November 11, 1918, but now includes acknowledgement and tributes to all conflicts and police actions that have involved the Australian defence forces.
And like Anzac Day the large number of younger people involved in the Wangaratta ceremony made a lasting impression on the aging veterans.
President of the 2/24 Australian Infantry Battalion Association Ian Holmes said Australia now has two days of national war memorials.
“A decade ago only a hand- ful of people went to Remembrance Day services,” he said.
“But it’s very community orientated now, not just officials are involved, and especially with so many young people.
“It was great see all the schools at the Cenotaph and the 33 Army Cadet Unit (the official flag party) was excellent.”
He said publicity in recent years to mark the centenary of WWI had generated more interest in young people who now researched the military history of Australia on the internet.
Wangaratta RSL sub-branch president, Lieutenant General (Ret) Ash Power, was also impressed with the turnout.
“It was a good sized crowd, Saturday tends to bring a few more out,” he said.
“And it was great to see a mixture of the older veterans and so many young people,” he said.
Vietnam veteran John Rodgers from Broadford, who attended his first Wangaratta service to witness his granddaughter Faith HayesRodgers lay a wreath for the 2/24th, was also impressed.
“It’s bigger than Broadford’s service,” he said.
“It was good to see the army cadets and the schools all getting involved.”
Kevin Atkinson, representing the Bpangerang people, opened the service with a haunting melody on the didgeridoo acknowledging the warrior spirits of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who served in WWI, and was followed by Wangaratta West Primary School choir singing Abide With Me.
Terry Shaw’s rendition of The Band Played Waltzing Matilda was another highlight.
Wangaratta mayor Ken Clarke gave the official address, which included a recount of the famous charge at Beersheba by the Australian Light Horse which marked its 100th anniversary on October 31, and had a special word for the younger people in the crowd.
“I am so pleased to see so many children here to acknowledge the bravery of our forebears and the part they played in shaping our lives today.
“You and I must always remember the men and women whose names are on our war memorials all around this country, and we must ensure that the significance of their deeds is never diminished over time.
“We owe them so much, and your presence here today is our way of commemorating and reflecting on this particularly terrible period of World War 1.
“Our thoughts and prayers turn also to those brave men and women currently in active service to our nation in an overseas country.
“We pray for their protection and for their safe return at the completion of their term of duty.”
It was a salutary reminder for young and old alike that despite the tragedy and horror of past wars and current conflicts, future generations will not be immune to similar challenges in the future.
IN GOOD HANDS: One of the highlights of Saturday’s Remembrance Day service in Wangaratta was the involvement of so many young people including local schools, buglar Miles Hunt and the 33 Army Cadet Unit flag party escort pictured (with cadets Callum Oates, Kyle Millington and Chloe Miller in the front row), commanded by Cadet Under Oficer Jack Ledingham.
UNITED IN MEMORY: The large crowd at the Cenotaph included veterans from a number of conflicts ranging from WWII to the current day.
A PROUD ONLOOKER; Vietnam veteran John Rodgers from Broadford was there to see his granddaughter Faith Hayes-Rodgers lay a wreath for the 2/24th Battalion.
REMEMBERING MATES; Vietnam Veterans Gary Hadley (left) and Bryan McConkey were two of the many ex-servicemen at the Remembrance Day service on Saturday.
FAMILY CONNECTION: Val Brennan with her grandson Kelly Brennan wearing the medals of his great grandfather Frank McCormack who served with the 2nd/21st Division in Malaya in WWII. Frank was captured by the Japanese in Ambon, but survived the POW camp to return home on September 13, 1945.