Chairman’s Corner – December 2018
Friday 14 December, 2018
By now memories of the numerous events marking the Centenary of the Great War Armistice,
such as photos of that era, will be well and truly faded.
For me, there were three events, which I shall always remember.
These events were not to glorify the events of war, but to reflect on the bravery of many thousands of young Australians serving far from home in conditions we can barely understand. It was also a time to acknowledge the burdens carried by families and friends and the many hardships they had to endure during and after hostilities ceased. Some men were not reunited with their families for two years after hostilities ceased.
The first event took place on the evening of 10 November at the Adelaide Town Hall. It was a State Dinner to Commemorate the Centenary of the Great War Armistice hosted by the Premier of South Australia, the Hon Steven Marshall MP. It was an outstanding evening organised by Veterans SA and the Protocol team from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.
The evening was beautifully and thoughtfully controlled by Jane Doyle, whose grandfather had been awarded the Victoria Cross in France, during World War I. The performance of the South Australian State Opera singing of songs of the World War1 era was a highlight.
Over the next few days I spoke with other people who had attended the evening. The response when I asked if they had enjoyed the evening was a unanimous “It was an outstanding evening and one which I was privileged to attend”.
On the morning of 11 November I attended a breakfast for veterans of World War II. It was a wonderful opportunity to hear reflections (much underplayed I suspect) from airmen who had flown bombers and fighter aircraft over France, Germany, Italy and the Pacific Islands. The Infantrymen and soldiers of other arms, not to be outdone, also told of their experiences in the deserts of Africa and the jungles of New Guinea and the Pacific Islands.
It was impossible to walk away feeling anything other than very humble. It was a wonderful prelude to the public ceremony at the State War Memorial.
The third event was the rededication of the Dardanelles Cenotaph at the northern end of the Anzac Centenary Memorial Walk on Kintore Avenue. It was a simple but very moving ceremony.
Previously, the Cross had two homes, finally settling in the Southern Parklands where it had languished, largely uncared for over recent years. There is no doubt that the move to its new home has very strong support from the overwhelming majority of the veteran community.
The Cross now stands as the focal point of what could be regarded as “The Veteran Precinct”. If you stand at the Cross you are more or less at the focal point of The Memorial Walk, The Pathway of Honour and the Torrens Parade Ground with its surrounding monuments.
Perhaps in the future, units departing from South Australia for overseas service will choose to have a final parade on the Torrens Parade Ground, thus continuing the tradition established by earlier units leaving for service overseas.
BRIG Laurie Lewis AM (Ret’d)
Veterans’ Advisory Council Chairman