Com­mu­nity turns out to re­mem­ber those who served

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY SHANE DOUTHIE sd­outhie@ne­me­

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.

PHOTO: Emma Hil­lier

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...

PHOTOS: Emma Hil­lier

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...

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