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Emotions flow as a city remembers

Paying respects: A crowd of more than a thousand assemble in Gympie early Sunday morning to remember the sacrifice made by those who have served Australia in war.
Paying respects: A crowd of more than a thousand assemble in Gympie early Sunday morning to remember the sacrifice made by those who have served Australia in war. Craig Warhurst

MORE than 1000 individuals united as one massive crowd along Reef Street and well into Memorial Park on Sunday morning to pay their respects to the Anzacs, each with their private thoughts as the bugle played the Last Post and prayers of gratitude were spoken by dignitaries.

A couple of metres in front of me, a young man, well-attired in a suit, removed his hat as the national anthem was sung.

To my right, a uniformed police officer stood like a statue, for the duration of the anthem. Only when it finished did he stand at ease again.

In front of me, a young boy dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and thongs remained still for most of the service, only turning to take in the crowd a couple of times.

A young girl in flannelette pyjamas sat cross-legged and motionless on the damp bitumen, and as the words, “At the setting of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them” were spoken, a middle aged woman lifted her glasses and wiped tears from her eyes.

In the dark of the morning, my own eyes misted as I thought of the thousands of sons, husbands, brothers, uncles and mates who died on foreign soil so that we could have the freedom our nation enjoys today.

Immense pride not withstanding, it is difficult to get my head around the concept of knowingly and willingly paying the ultimate sacrifice.

As my mind recalled that final poignant scene from the movie Gallipoli , I said a silent prayer of gratitude, not just to those who lost their lives but to those who returned, never quite the same as when they left Australian shores.

I wondered if the souls of the local boys who lost their lives in conflicts might be witnessing the many dawn services held around the region and what they might make of it.

The words from a John Prine song, “We lost Davy in the Korean War and we still don’t know what for,” jockeyed for first place in the line of thoughts in my head.

I thought fondly of the many Vietnam vets it has been my great privilege to meet.

Some who I now consider to be my friends, some whose paths I crossed for the duration of an interview and who I may never see again but whose stories I keep and honour in my mind and my heart.

How can one not be overcome with emotion, irrespective of how it manifests itself?

Even the cacophony of birds that made it difficult to hear every word that was spoken, could not detract from their meaning.

Lest We Forget.

Gympie Times


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