Strong support for Tea Gardens’ ANZAC commemoration

Tea Gardens RSL Sub-Branch led the 10:30am march down Marine Drive.

ANZAC Day saw an incredibly large attendance in Tea Gardens for the 10:30am march and subsequent 11am service at ANZAC Park on Thursday, 25 April.

The march down Marine Drive was launched by an earlier-than-expected fly-by from the RAAF jet, which zoomed down the main road over the gathered marchers, leaving most bewildered and amazed.

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Joining the march were RSL sub-Branch members and veterans, led by Peter Sinclair and Rodney Brayne, followed by the Motor Club, Fire & Rescue 471, Pindimar-Tea Gardens RFS, Tea Gardens Country Club Ladies and Men’s Bowling Club, Tea Gardens Lions Club, the Tea Gardens Hawks Nest Surf Life Saving Club, and a massive contingent from the Hawks RLFC men’s and ladies’ teams, and their several junior teams, too.

The even bigger crowd gathered at ANZAC Park also saw a record number of wreaths brought for laying at the Memorial, as more rain menaced from the south again.

Special guests included WWII veteran Rodney Brayne, who was presented with a special Veteran’s Medallion at the start of proceedings, as well as the Catafalque Party, from RAAF 77 Squadron at Williamtown, home of the ‘Grumpy Monkeys’, led by Catafalque Party Commander Flight Sgt Jason Cox.

RAAF Flight Sgt Brendan Boatswain recounted the first ANZAC landings and outbreak of WWI.

“In war, we often see people at their best, and one day galvanised our country as one, 25 April, and the concepts of mateship, courage, determination and selflessness defined the ANZAC tradition.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by Tea Gardens RSL sub-Branch President Mal Motum on the importance of the ANZACs’ legacy to our identity as a country.

“The ANZAC spirit is reflected in times of crisis or hardship, to ease suffering, provide food and shelter, and we should pause to thank previous generations, consider what they would expect of us today.”

The sub-Branch’s padre, Reverend Richard Goscombe, spoke eloquently.

“Remember that 7000 Australians died in Gallipoli, and the Melbourne Shrine’s placement of its Biblical reference to ‘greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his friends’, as our soldiers laid down their lives for us to live in the country we enjoy now.

“Now, the fashion is entitlement, competition of self-interest, and I pray that we may be a society that again lauds these (ANZAC) values.”

The record number of wreaths were laid in turn, all around the Memorial, including at least one from every community group present, the NOTA, and Myall River Hawks JRLFC’s Alex Saunders on behalf of State MP Kate Washington.

Tea Gardens Public School Prime Minister Cora Constance led a prayer, as the Myall Melodians led everyone in singing The Recessional.

As The Last Post bugler began, so too did the rain, as though the heavens themselves were crying at that infamously mournful tune, and the Melodians persevered through the rain to sing ‘Abide With Me’, and, finally, both the New Zealand and Australian national anthems, before most headed back to the Country Club or home to enjoy the public holiday.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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