The Yarrawonga and Mulwala communities honoured past and present soldiers as well as the Anzac spirit last week with bumper crowds attending ceremonies held in both towns.
The Dawn Service, Mulwala March and Yarrawonga March were all well attended with a particularly noticeable representation from young community members.
After a turnout of more than 2000 people at the Dawn Service, the Mulwala March was well attended with school students from Mulwala Public and Pre School, Sacred Heart Primary School and College and Yarrawonga College P-12 marching.
The schools also formed a large part of the Yarrawonga marching contingent, joined also by Cathedral College Wangaratta, Goulburn Valley Grammar and the Yarrawonga Guide and Scout groups.
While the numbers of veterans participating in the services might be slowly decreasing, the number of young people involved bolstered numbers to provide a proud marching party.
At the Dawn service held at the ClubMulwala RSL War Memorial, school captains of Yarrawonga P-12 College Jordy McCarthy and Spencer Levesque as well as Sacred Heart College captains Ashley Churchin and Adam Morley all spoke of the meaning of the Anzac legacy to the next generation.
“Courage, endurance, mateship, sacrifice; four words that mean so much to many Australians and form the qualities we know as the ANZAC legend,” Jordy McCarthy said.
“A spirit that was forged amidst the devastation on the shores of Gallipoli and on the Western Front during WW1.
“These qualities that epitomise the way our soldiers fought for our freedom during WW1 and throughout every battle since.
“It is a day of mixed emotions as we remember and realise what these young men and women sacrificed for their country,” Spencer Levesque added.
“As I searched for the true meaning of ANZAC Day for me, I thought about how it makes me feel, it makes me feel proud, proud to be called an Australian.
“It is because of the courage and compassion as well as the sacrifices made by so many ANZACs, fighting for our country and our freedom and making Australia what it is today,” Spencer said.
“The courage and sacrifice by the Australians on those fateful days of the 24th and 25th of April 1918 where 2400 of 3900 Australians took part in a crucial battle during the German Spring offensive at Villers- Bretonneux was recognised with the Australian National Memorial for the great war,” Ashley Churchin said.
“The war memorial is the main memorial for Australian personnel killed on the Western Front and marks the 10,700 Australians who died in France who have no known grave,” Ashely said.
“The Centenary of Anzac 2014 to 2018 is Australia’s most important period of national commemoration,” Adam Morley said.
“Marking 100 years since our involvement in the First World War, the Anzac Centenary is a time to honour the service and sacrifice of our original ANZACs, as well as the generations of Australian servicemen and women who have defended our values and freedoms, in wars, conflicts and peace operations throughout a century of service.”
The students also made note of the Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub Branch’s milestone this year.
“2018 sees us not only celebrating the centenary of ANZAC but closer to home we are celebrating 100 years of the Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub Branch,” Adam said.
“The ethos of compassion and service remains today the motivating influence of the League and in its centenary year the sub-branch is still an integral part of this community.”
Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL president Ian Summers addressed both Mulwala and Yarrawonga services and highlighted his talk on peacekeepers and peacemakers from when it commenced in 1947 to the present day.
RSL secretary Brian Cossar was pleased with the turnout at all services and said ANZAC Day will remain a large presence on Australia’s calendar with the next generation embracing the meaning behind it.
“We had a record attendance at the Dawn Service with the Sacred Heart and Yarrawonga P-12 School Captains excelling and doing their respective colleges proud,” Brian said.
“The Mulwala march and service was extremely well attended at 9.30am and an enormous crowd followed at the Yarrawonga march and service an hour later.
“The huge turnout by the public along with the representation of school children plus the Scouting movement marching with veterans and family members was a gratifying sight to see, and we believe that our future is in safe hands with the turnout of young people, who now embrace what ANZAC Day is all about.”
Many accolades were also expressed to Ian and Brian saying this year’s services were the best ever held in Mulwala and Yarrawonga.
“It was a team effort by many members of the RSL and they all can be justly proud of their collective input,” Brian said.
Following the proceedings, many returned service men and women enjoyed an afternoon of comradeship at the ClubMulwala, while other members of the community took time out to enjoy the football with family or friends or a friendly came of two-up.