By Brendan Rees
Thousands gathered at for an Anzac Day service in Cranbourne to pay tribute to Australia’s servicemen and women, more than a century after the Anzac legend was born.
Current and former members of Australia’s defence forces, along with community groups, marched along High Street from 10.30am.
Schoolchildren wearing medals marched alongside veterans and active service men and women to honour the fallen.
The parade, which was led by the Cormac McCarthy Irish Pipe Band were cheered by crowds of spectators.
Dandenong Cranbourne RSL sub-branch senior-vice president Bill Shepherd welcomed the crowd at a service held at Cranbourne War Memorial at Greg Clydesdale Square where Reverend Ineke Gyles of the Cranbourne Uniting Church led the crowd in prayer.
Mr Shepherd said: “We have come here to commemorate one of the most significant events in our national calendar.”
“We have enjoyed the benefits of the peace and easy existence which was purchased at the cost of many lives.
“It is now a long standing tradition that on Anzac Day we all pause to remember those that offered up their life in the defence of their nation and community which is the greatest contribution any human can make,” Mr Shepherd said.
Federal Member for Holt Anthony Byrne said “The spirit of Anzac is the spirit of this country.”
“We see their names chiselled in the walls of war memorials. They’ve done more than that. They have chiselled the Australian character into the soul of this nation with their service,” he said.
Eyes then turned to the skies when the Royal Australian Air Force conducted a flyover.
Alkira Secondary College Year 11 student Emily Gardiner, who was one of the state’s recipients of the Premier’s ANZAC Prize earlier this year said Anzac Day went further their honouring Australia’s fallen.
“To me Anzac Day is about ensuring that the spirit of the Anzac is to remain a legacy to be passed down from generation to generation,” she said.
Casey Councillors, members of the Cranbourne Dandenong RSL sub branch, community groups, schools and the public were then invited to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph as a mark of respect to the men and women who served their country.
The service continued with The Last Post, a silent tribute and a rendition of the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand before a Catafalque Party from HMAS Cerebus marched off under the command of Petty Officer Bosnuns Mate Gamble.