Anzac Day gives veterans new-found joy and hope

Bundaberg RSL Sub-Branch president Graham Crowden leads his group into the march for Anzac Day at Bundaberg. Picture: SHANE JONES

By Shane Jones

“There is no doubt the missing of Anzac Day last year had a negative effect, to say the least, on many of our veterans.”

Bundaberg RSL Sub-Branch president Graham Crowden was pleased everyone once again got the chance to honour Australia’s war veterans on 25 April.

The day returned to some form of normality, with dawn services and parades held around the Bundaberg region.

It was also perfect conditions as the sun shined down on those who served the country in previous wars.

There were also plenty of people paying their respects to the veterans.

“I am absolutely thrilled to bits (it’s back),” Mr Crowden said.

“I’m an ex-RAAF veteran so this year being our 100th anniversary, and the fact we didn’t have it last year and we could have it this year, it lightened my heart for sure.

“I’m the one feeling sorry for those in Western Australian who are unable to commemorate Anzac Day.”

Mr Crowden said the best part of the day was seeing all the children turn up to honour the veterans.

“Seeing the number of children turn up to our Anzac day commemoration just reassures me that the Anzac spirit is alive and well and very relevant today.

“Many ask ‘what is the relevance?’ and you have only got to open your eyes and seeing the kids standing and sitting and being reverent and all those things.

“It’s a blessing to the heart.”

Mr Crowden said it was important people continued to recognise not only the day, but also everyone who has served the country more than 100 years ago and today as well.

“I hear and see the buzz that goes on around Anzac Day by everyone and it’s a commemoration, yes, but it’s also a celebration of service.

“Any veteran who has signed up, has signed a blank cheque to the value of their own lives to give it up for Australia.”

Mr Crowden thanked everyone who helped to make the day so special – the bands that came together to help, the volunteers who put the marquees and the chairs together, and the Royal Queensland Regiment who did the catafalque party.

He added his staff in the veteran support centre organised the event in six weeks when they usually had three months.

“These all come together on this one day and make something like this work,” he said.

“It’s a real event.”