|Charlie Elwell leading the ANZAC Day Parade in Esk 2016|
A century ago, 1916, the focus of the First World War turned to the Western Front where the battles and victories helped define the War and ultimately define early Australia. Also a century ago, the streets of Brisbane were lined with throngs of ordinary people...mothers who had lost sons, children who had lost fathers and brothers; wives, their husbands. It was a time and place where officials were keen to recognise the country's, and especially Queensland's, sacrifices to World War I but equally keen to maintain that staunch British stiff upper lip and to further recruit young men for the war in Europe. Somewhere within this intersection of grief, shock and commemoration lay the meaning of ANZAC Day, the structure of which was initiated by Chaplain-Colonel David Garland and which still endures to this day.
The spirit of Anzac, with its stories of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have deep meaning for our sense of national identity and pride and this could not have been more deeply felt when guest speaker at Esk's commemoration ceremony, Corporal Stewart Alpert a former soldier with 6RAR, gave his profound and heartfelt address recounting insights of his experiences in Afghanistan.
Huge crowds lined Esk's main street or gathered early at the Cenotaph at Esk's Memorial Park to watch RSL President, Charlie Elwell lead the parade of veterans, their descendants, community groups and clubs all marching with distinction to the beat of the City of Brisbane Pipe Band. From Charlie's always welcome address followed by the singing of the Australian and New Zealand's National Anthems, sung proudly by Maree and Sue, interspersed with the beautiful singing of hymns by the choir, poems read, the laying of wreaths, and prayers by Fr. Hegarty, through to Matthew Lukritz's faultless bugling of the Last Post and Reveille and the ceremonious departure of the Catafalque Party, the huge crowd felt the solemn protocol this day of remembrance evokes. Humbled by the recount of events the crowd dispersed to celebrate their freedoms, to savour the memories and perhaps to feel a little of that which may have been felt in the hearts of those who have risen to the challenges of wars then and since, and feel grateful.
By Sue Walker
|Cpl Stewart Alpert|