A unique day of remembrance

A unique day of remembrance

Several residents in Orbost awoke early on Saturday to participate in the commemoration of ANZAC Day. 

However, this year, due to the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 virus, there was no dawn service with the 13th Gippsland Light Horse Ceremonial Troop. There was no ANZAC Day Parade and there was no 11 o’clock service at the cenotaph with hundreds of people.

Instead, the Orbost community was asked to stand at their front gate or on their verandah at 6am and observe a minute’s silence to reflect on the sacrifice that had been made by so many during war. And this they did.

Versions of the Last Post could be heard playing in the town from just before 6am until well after. At 0601, captain of the Orbost Fire Brigade, Dick Johnstone, sounded the fire siren as a tribute that the whole community could hear and reflect upon.

At the top end of town a group gathered to commemorate outside Spiros Takeaway. Grace Patterson’s granddaughter, Justise, played the Last Post brilliantly on her saxophone.

“This was a very moving tribute,” president of the Orbost RSL Sub-branch, Dick Roebuck, said.

Several people placed wreaths and floral tributes at the Orbost Cenotaph from dawn. At midday SES members, Jim Barnett and Alan Smeaton, raised the flags from half-mast to top mast, as is the ANZAC Day tradition. The Ode was recited, and members returned home to COVID-19 isolation. A few passers by paused in respect, which was greatly appreciated.

“A quick drive around town saw several ANZAC Day tributes displayed with wreaths and flags on people’s fences,” Mr Roebuck said.

“Some children had gone to the trouble of making paper plate poppies and fixing them to their front gate. This was very moving; to think that young people are prepared to be so respectful.”

Orbost RSL Sub-branch secretary, Cherie Young, and her husband, Graham Young, were joined by other local residents and members of the Jarrahmond Landcare Group in laying floral tributes at the Jarrahmond Avenue of Honour memorial. This was a fitting tribute to honour the brave young men and women from that area who served and for those who made the supreme sacrifice.

Orbost Secondary College school captains, James Russell and Chloe Healey, also laid a wreath at the cenotaph on behalf of the school with the following message.

“ANZAC Day is a national day of remembrance that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars,” they said.

“While ANZAC Day is a very important day for all Australian’s the reasons vary for us all. For some, ANZAC Day is the direct memories of war and the implications that came with it. For others it’s to remember and be proud of their friends and relatives that fought on the front line. Today, for us all, is the day to appreciate a conflict-free Australia that we know and love. We Aussies are strong, and we have gotten through everything that’s been thrown at us so far this year. We must remain resilient in this time and not let the coronavirus restrictions affect us on this significant day.”

As a recipient of the Arthur Grassby Scholarship in 2019, Chloe said she was able to better understand the horrendous times of the war, and will forever remember the importance of this day.

“The way Australians show respect for the sacrifice and resilience of all Australian soldiers is incredibly significant, and will forever live on,” she said.

“It is them we can thank for this beautiful country where everyone feels like they belong. The combination of respect, resilience, aspiration and belonging that have been shown by our Australian soldiers ties into our school values, which will hopefully also allow us to achieve our goals in the future.”

“It is a privilege to be able to pay our respects to the ANZACs and all other soldiers who have served our country,” Chloe and James said.

In all, regardless of the circumstances, Orbost did pay tribute to veterans from all wars this ANZAC Day. Lest We Forget.

IMAGE: While the great numbers of people who usually attend the dawn and mid-morning ANZAC Day services at the Orbost Cenotaph each year were remembering the fallen, those who have served and those who continue to serve, from the isolation of their own homes, the significant day was well acknowledged by the community abroad with many participating in their own private dawn services. See inside for some of the moving moments captured around the region. S133-9370