Commemorating the making of a nation
TWENTY-six years of service in the Australian Army has given Gordon Nielson plenty to reflect on this Anzac Day.
Currently a committee member at the Warwick RSL, Mr Nielson completed two tours in Vietnam starting out as a private solider and ending up as a warrant officer.
Embarking on his first tour in June 1965, he spent 12 months with the American 173rd Airborne Brigade.
After furthering his study, he moved into training national servicemen and then completed further courses before joining the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam in 1972.
"I saw Vietnam and some stuff over there in the beginning and also we were the last combat troops out of Vietnam,” Mr Nielson said.
For Nielson, Anzac Day gives an opportunity to honour the role the soldiers and the battles they fought during the nation's formative years played in shaping our national identity.
"Anzac Day is the main defence force day that is commemorated by Australia,” Mr Nielson said.
"It's there to commemorate basically the making of a young nation of Australia as a separate entity, as a separate country.
"Even at the time we were still also looked at as being the colonials of England. But Anzac and the battles of Anzac, then further when they moved over into France and Belgium and the battles there, that really put the run on of Australia as a separate nation.”
One of the most renowned aspects of the Australian identity, the Anzac spirit, which is said to have flowed through these battlefields, was the culmination of a value system that had long been forming on home soil, according to Mr Nielson.
"The Anzac spirit comes in from the mateship business which was already established in Australia out in the rural areas in particular.”
"You would always help out and look after your mate.”
Mr Nielson fulfilled many roles during his time with the army, including being posted to Warwick in 1984 with the army reserves.
After exiting the service, Mr Nielson has racked up 17 years of additional service with the Veterans Support and Advocacy Service and Warwick RSL Club.
Today he plans to attend the dawn and 11am services in Warwick and catch up with old and new mates.
"Meeting others that have been through the same environment as what I have and so you have a bunch of things in common,” Mr Nielson said.
"It's good to see some of the fellows you haven't seen for quite a long while.”
Guidelines and procedures are in place to ensure Anzac Day services are carried out in due process, but Mr Nielson revealed that attendees at the 11am Leslie Park service will witness a unique display.
A fade away ceremony is included in the program which symbolises handing over the reins.
"That's what's got to happen in the future. Not just military wise but in every aspect, you've got to look at the younger generation and you've got to handover to them,” Mr Nielson said.