Thousands pay Anzac Day tribute at emotional Gympie services
"THEY shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them."
It was the ageless, iconic Ode of Remembrance that rang true through Memorial Lane this morning as thousands attended the Gympie Anzac Day Dawn Service.
Local veterans, cadets, community leaders and residents stood united in sombre, respectful silence as the eternal flame, lit last night by the family of fallen Gympie soldier Ash Birt, flickered overhead.
Crowds lined Reef St, spilled into Memorial Park and backed up to the road closure signs at Monkland St as Gympie RSL Club treasurer and Sub Branch president Martin Muller led the tributes.
"We remember those who didn't come back and paid the ultimate sacrifice, and we also remember those who came back, some with injuries you could see and some you couldn't," Mr Muller said.
Emotions ran high through the haunting notes of The Last Post, with some in the audience shedding silent tears in remembrance of our fallen soldiers.
Hundreds more lined the Normanby Hill Remembrance Park for the secondary Gympie service at 6:15am, where more wreaths and poppies were laid at the foot of the World War II monument bearing the Ode.
Of the Normanby Hill attendees were Harrison Brunjes and his grandfather, Malaya veteran Adrian Booth.
Mr Booth said he was touched by the sheer number of attendees who turned out to pay their respects.
"You couldn't miss an Anzac Day, and I think we're in good hands. You see these young kids coming up through the cadets. It was great," he said.
"We've been doing this since Harrison was about four at Gayndah. He's driving me now."
Some in the dawn service crowd remarked that attendance numbers could well have been bigger than the World War I centenary year last year, and could even have been a record.
Stay tuned as we continue covering Anzac Day services around the Gympie region, from Tin Can Bay to Imbil and back to Gympie for the annual Anzac Day March.