By Marcus Uhe
Thousands in Cranbourne took the opportunity to pay their respects to our current and former servicemen and women at a traditional Anzac Day march in glorious Autumn sunshine on Monday morning, 25 April.
A 200-metre long convoy made their way from Sladen Street down High Street as the crowd lined the roads, applauding and expressing their gratitude to all participating.
Despite a three-to-four hour interlude between the dawn service and the March, many who attended the 6am ceremony either hung-around Greg Clydesdale Square or returned at 10.30 for the March and the subsequent morning service at 11.
Stuart Couch, a co-host of today’s ceremonies and committee member of the Dandenong-Cranbourne RSL, was leading the procession in an open-toped Land Rover, with a Veteran from the Second World War riding shotgun alongside him.
Following him were a number of Veterans and families, before community groups including Scouts, Guides, Emergency Service staff, Rotary Groups, Australian Air League, Sikh Volunteers, school contingents and many more made their way to the Cenotaph.
Mr Couch and John Antonie from the Dandenong-Cranbourne RSL led the formalities, with Mr Couch reflecting on the Anzac Spirit, the toll of wars in Northern Australia in places such as Darwin, and the enduring legacy carried-on by those who attended more recent conflicts.
Mr Antonie then read the Recessional Hymn and the ANZAC Requiem.
“We think of every man and woman who in those critical aisles, died so that the likes of freedom and humanity might shine,” Mr Antonie said.
“We shall forever be mindful too of those brave men who left their shores and died in Korea, Malay and Vietnam. In the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq, helping us safeguard the Commonwealth and other free countries against the on-march of our enemies, thrusting to obtain new bases to which they might attack, and destroy the freedoms that in two wars, cost over 100,000 lives, and 100,000 more Australians.
“We must remember also, our peacekeepers, who have operated and faced danger so many times and in so many places, and we remember our forces serving overseas today.
“May all these rest proudly in the knowledge of their achievements.
“May, and our successors, and the heritage left to us, prove worthy of these sacrifices.”
State Member for Cranbourne Pauline Richards was offered the podium to speak, reflecting on what Anzac Day means to her, including detailing her Grandfather’s involvement
“I want to very much today reflect on those current and more recent veterans who have returned from service because we know that it can be an incredibly special day,” Ms Richards said.
“It’s the spirit of the ANZACs that continues to give Australians hope, and it’s that hope that’s bestowed to Australia’s servicemen and women their values and virtues. That is why we commemorate days like this.
“The poppies, the bright and piercing bugle, it draws us to remember and reflect on that spirit of sacrifice of the ANZACs. It’s important that we keep in mind and in our hearts the sacrifices that our servicemen and women have endured, and reflect on the courage of those who answer that call.
Around 30-40 groups and individuals took the opportunity to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, guarded by a Catafalque party and members of the Australian Air League.
Among those to present a wreath were candidates for the Federal seat of Holt, Cassandra Fernando (Labor) and Gerardine Hansen (United Australia).
The ceremony concluded with the call of ‘stand- to’, for Binyon’s Ode, the Last Post, played by 13-year-old Jamie Rolfe, a minute’s silence, and the Reveille.
Following the ceremony, many of the Veterans made their way to the former Cranbourne RSL venue, Silks, to gather and for games of ‘two-up’.