Today was the 99th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli in 1915. April 25th is recognised around the world as ANZAC Day – Australia New Zealand Army Corps – it is the day on which we remember Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. The spirit of Anzac, with its human qualities of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity (from Australian War Memorial site).
Thousands attended Dawn Services and Marches around the country. Our little town was no exception with hundreds of people marching and remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. It was a glorious Autumn day with a crispy start to the day for the many who attended the Dawn Service. The day had warmed up by 10.30am and the March had many school and community groups joining the ranks of servicemen and women. It was a great privilege to be involved.
We were honoured this year to have Captain Bede Tongs MM, aged 92 and a veteran of Kokoda, march with us. He normally attends the Dawn Service in Canberra but this year decided he wanted to be with ‘real people’. He was in town to attend the Kokoda trekkers reunion to be held on Saturday night. Our town has had many students and community members walk the Kokoda Track, in Papua New Guinea, as part of our Rotary Club’s Tumbarumba2Kokoda project.
Another very special guest is Noora, a Rotary Youth Exchange Student from Finland, who in our town 8 years ago and participated in the first Tumbarumba 2 Kokoda trek in 2007. She is back in town to attend the Kokoda reunion and to spend a few weeks in Australia catching up with friends. It’s our great pleasure in having her back in our home, as we were one set of host parents throughout her year in town.
The reunion is a dinner for all the past trekkers, supporters, family and friends. For a small town we have raised a lot of money towards this worthwhile project and it’s safe to say that is has been a life changing project for all the students and others who have walked in the footsteps of our heroes. I am proud to say that I have walked the track and consider it an honour to have had the opportunity. Here are a few photos of this special day.
Lest we forget.