At this year’s Lone Pine Memorial Service in Turkey, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, the Hon Michael Ronaldson described the ANZAC’s as “Tenacious. Brave. Courageous. Determined.” These words summarise the characteristics of the soldiers who, throughout Australia’s history, have served in a strong and resilient manner during times of hardship and trial.
On April 25 each year, ANZAC day brings communities together for a time of commemoration and memorial. There are few other events on the calendar that generate the attendance and community involvement that ANZAC day achieves.
This year, hundreds of locals attended local services in order to honour and respect those who sacrificed their lives in service of their nation. Dawn service at Quirindi began at 5.30am with approximately 200 early risers in attendance.
Quirindi RSL Sub Branch President, Mr Doug Hawkins emceed the event.
“The dawn service is the important service for the servicemen. That’s the service that they like to go to because it reflects their outlook on things,” he said. “In the other services they mingle with their mates, they march; but the dawn service is really their important service.”
Local students Lucy Crane and Ashley Cone did a fantastic job in performing the National Anthem for the service. The Quirindi RSL Sub Branch and Liverpool Plains Community Band, led by Main Piper Gavin Shaw, performed the Lament prior to the beginning of the parade. Leoni Stock performed the last post and the Reveille on her bugle for both the dawn and midday service.
The midday service and ANZAC Day march began at 11.00am from outside the Quirindi Post Office. RSL Sub Branch members, Veterans, Red Cross members, local school children and many other participants marched proudly down George Street with hundreds of onlookers watching on.
Once again, Doug Hawkins took on the role of emcee. An impressive attendance of roughly 500 people crowded around the town clock. The massive turnout indicated the growing importance of ANZAC Day in our nation’s culture.
“It’s one of those things that’s just grown in popularity,” said Doug in regard to the midday service. “We were particularly impressed with the schools and with the way they presented themselves, and when you speak to the School Captains they are very respectful and mindful of the occasion so we were pretty impressed with them overall.”
During the midday service Quirindi High School Captains, Lani Hamblin and Casey Miller presented the Prologue, Prayer for the Queen and Prayer of Thanksgiving. Quirindi RSL Sub Branch Secretary, Jerry Walsh provided the Prayer for the Nation.
The Hon. George Souris MP provided an intriguing ANZAC Day address, on the story of Australian World War Two nurse Ellen Savage (1912–1985) from Quirindi. Her story is well documented and can be read about online at adb.anu.edu.au/biography/savage-ellen-15752
Members from the RSL Sub Branch were extremely pleased to see a strong attendance from the local youth this year.
“The younger people are taking it up in droves,” commented Doug Hawkins. “There’s a lot more interest in their fathers, their grandfathers, to march and to celebrate.”
The RSL Sub Branch was also especially thankful to Shaun Hamilton who led in the singing of all the midday service hymns and the national anthem. Band member Fleur Hamilton was commended for her assistance in helping veterans out of cars and into seating on the day. The Sub Branch was also very appreciative of the Council’s outdoor staff who did a terrific job in managing tables, seating and barricades and in looking after veterans and guests.
“I would just like to thank the Quirindi RSL Sub Branch including Ken Pengilley, Teddy Hamilton and Jerry Walsh as well as the staff and management of the RSL Club for their services during the day, and also the general public for their support of both services,” said Doug.
The RSL Club did a great job in catering for ANZAC Day breakfast and lunch, and in making sure that all the veterans were well looked after.
Around the region, towns like Murrurundi, Werris Creek, Currabubula, and Willow Tree hosted their own services. It was a very successful day and helped all, as Australians, to appreciate and be thankful for the sacrifice that previous generations have made to ensure our country is the safe and flourishing country it is today.
As the Hon Michael Ronaldson MP stated in his Lone Pine address, “No Australian now or forever, must ever forget that the freedoms we enjoy today were paid for in blood nearly 100 years ago.”