Fallen honoured at Anzac services

THEY donned the school uniform – some of them embellished with the service medals of a relative – and turned out in their hundreds to honour the fallen yesterday.

Despite being in the midst of holidays, Warwick school students were among the thousands of residents to mark Anzac day at ceremonies held around the district.

The poignant dawn service drew a large crowd, with organisers flagging it as a record-breaker.

Morning services at Warwick Cemetery and Eden Gardens followed, with Mayor Ron Bellingham and newly-appointed RSL president Ann Moufarrege in attendance.

In his address, Eden Gardens committee president Cec Watts spoke of the huge sacrifices past and present servicemen and women made for their homeland.

“The number of veterans dwindles year by year, but their determination, friendship and courage will be remembered forever,” he said.

“It is passed onto sons, daughters and grandchildren.”

Mr Watts described the anticipation of young men and women who enlisted under the Australian flag.

“Some thought of it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel, while others didn’t want to miss out on the chance,” he said.

“By the end of the first day (at Gallipoli), 2000 Anzacs were killed and a week later 6500 Anzacs were killed or wounded, but their determination, courage and mateship kept them together.”

Mr Watts said it was the Anzac spirit which saw WWI troops through “some horrific conditions”.

“Their spirit came home – the spirit of the Anzac,” he said.

Spectators then lined Palmerin St from 10.30am to cheer on the Parade participants as they marched to Leslie Park.

At the Cenotaph, guest speaker Captain Grant Prendergast – who served in East Timor as an armoured vehicle commander – addressed the respectful crowd.

He reflected on the meaning of Anzac and encouraged the audience to consider its significance.

“I have often thought that perhaps the term Anzac has been misunderstood,” Capt Prendergast said.

“It is not a place, nor is it a campaign or a war. It is not a ceremony or a parade either,” he said.

“I feel the term ‘Anzac’ has transcended the physical meaning to become a spirit – an inspiration which embodies the qualities of courage, discipline, sacrifice, self-reliance and in Australian terms, that of mateship and a fair go.”

Capt Prendergast also recognized the youth of Warwick and showed gratitude for their support in upholding the Anzac tradition today.

“Whatever some may think about our young people of today, our youth are our future and we need to safeguard that investment,” he said.

“We as members of the Warwick community need to give our youth the direction and advice that will prepare them for the future.

“The fundamental purpose of today has been, and should continue to be, to pay homage to our veterans and those who gave their lives. In doing so, we ensure a recognition by our youth that peace and freedom have always required a sacrifice in the past.

“Those we honour have left Australia a tradition of courage, selflessness and a fine reputation to follow for the future.”

Councillor Vic Pennisi attended the Leslie Park service and said it was an opportunity to reflect on former heroes as well as past decisions.

“It’s a day where we reflect on people that have been lost and people who have made mistakes. The people who have been lost have generally fought someone else’s battle. It’s generally the decisions made by leaders and (the soldiers) pay the price.”

Cr Pennisi said he had noticed the level of youth involvement in Anzac Day grow over the past five or so years.

“I guess this is a part of our history and I see it as a youth engaging and recognising our history,” he said.

“Kids are well informed today and they’re very engaged with the Anzac story.”

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