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Community & Business

12 May, 2023

ANZAC Day 2023 - Gilgandra Morning Service

This year’s ANZAC Day march to the 11am service in Gilgandra was held on a sunny and warm day. It was a peaceful, unassuming day - the kind of day that those who have fought for our country sacrificed for.

By Lucie Peart

The crowd gathered to remember and honour those who have gone before us, those that fought and died, those that returned - damaged or bruised, and those that continue to serve our nation.

Gilgandra Shire Council’s mayor Doug Batten officiated the service held at the cenotaph, adorned in knitted poppies. He began by acknowledging the traditional custodians of this land and he paid “respects to the many Indigenous Australians who have and continued to serve in our armed forces”.

“Today we commemorate those men and women who have given their lives to defend the freedom that we all enjoy in this country. We are all aware that ANZAC Day originated 108-years-ago when Australian and New Zealand troops stormed the predawn beaches at Gallipoli. The subsequent battle took a terrible toll, with nearly 36,000 ANZACs killed or wounded. Many of them teenagers like some of the young men and women here today,” said mayor Batten.

“Despite overwhelming odds. They held their ground through courage, perseverance, determination, self-reliance, and above all mateship.

“These characteristics didn’t just appear at Gallipoli; they were part of the Australian character. Forged by a hard land, a young nation, and a need to rely on each other in tough times. Gallipoli showed the world that Australians were made of strong stuff. Strong, determined, and courageous. Gallipoli showed what Australians already knew - we look after one another,” said mayor Batten.

“We cannot bring back those who made the ultimate sacrifice, but we can honour and remember their contribution to our way of life, and continue to nurture those same unselfish qualities in ourselves, and our young men and women,” mayor Batten concluded.

Throughout the service, the Coo-ee Choir led the crowd in a number of songs and hymns. Gilgandra High School’s Harrison King read a tribute to Australian service personnel, ‘At the going down of the Sun’. This was followed by the school’s Georgia Briggs, who read a poem titled ‘The inquisitive mind of a child’.

Peter Hall then presented a prayer. President of the Gilgandra Sub-Branch, Bruce Horwood, gave the commemoration address. He read a reflection on this year being the 50th anniversary of the withdrawal of the Australian combat forces from Vietnam, by Vin Cosgrove OAM. A Vietnam veteran, Vin Cosgrove served in the 2RAR New Zealand ANZAC battalion 1967/1968.

“Over 3000 of almost 60,000 Australians who served in Vietnam were physically wounded; the number impacted with exposure to agent orange we will never know. “We pause (today) to reflect on the bravery, teamwork and endurance that Australians display throughout the war. On this day we honour and recognise all who served. Those who lost their lives during the battle, those who returned home wounded, ill or injured. Those who lost their lives since they returned, and those who still carry the physical and emotional scars.”

“In 1978 following the Communists gaining control in Vietnam, thousands of Vietnamese refugees left the country in small boats some reaching Darwin, Australia. Suddenly Australians were made aware of the problems facing the Vietnamese refugees. By the end of 1979, 2011 ‘Vietnamese boat people’, as they had been termed by the media, had survived the dangerous journey from Vietnam; many had died trying.

“The role of the Vietnamese refugees signalled the end of the infamous ‘white Australia policy’ and was accompanied by much argument and debate.”

“In 1987, many veterans and their families came in from the cold, following the welcome home parade in Sydney. 25,000 veterans from across Australia marched. A hundred thousand plus spectators and family, clapped and cheered the parade. The march ushered in a period of enlightenment for many veterans.

“The Last Post Ceremony of Love, Loss, and Remembrance, commenced at the Australian War Memorial in 2013. This initiative was the vision of the then director Dr Brendan Nelson AO. Many Vietnam service men and women on the role have been honoured already,” concluded Mr Horwood.

High school student Tayarna McKenzie read a tribute to the fallen. Followed by Marshall Fairey who recited the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’.

Mayor Batten then invited community members forward for the laying of wreaths on the cenotaph. Bruce Horwood then returned to the podium and recited ‘The Ode of Remembrance’.

Bugler David Lamb played The Last Post, the flags were lowered before a minute’s silence was observed. Mr Lamb then played the Reveille while the flags returned to the top of their masts, by Kapene Karaitiana and Uncle Ralph Naden.

The commemoration ended with the Australia and New Zealand National Anthems. Gilgandra Services Club’s manager Quentin Karaitiana sang the NZ anthem in Māori language.

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