Young Anzac Day helpers welcome

Gympie RSL Sub Branch president Ivan Friske says descendants of veterans are welcome in Gympie’s Anzac Day march.
Gympie RSL Sub Branch president Ivan Friske says descendants of veterans are welcome in Gympie’s Anzac Day march. Renee Pilcher

CHILDREN and young supporters remain welcome participants in Gympie’s Anzac Day celebrations, but with some conditions and restrictions, the RSL said yesterday.

A national debate continued yesterday over concerns that descendants of veterans were either too prominent at times or should be welcome to march with, or in memory of, the diggers.

Gympie Sub Branch president Ivan Friske said it was important that the veterans themselves, especially the older ones, remained the focal point of the marches.

“We’re a separate sub branch from Brisbane and it’s been a policy here for a long time that descendants of veterans are welcome.” But he added: “there are a couple of stipulations of course.”

“If they want to march with a veteran or ex-service person they can, but only one relative per veteran.

“Children have to be under adult supervision. There are no prams or strollers and no carrying them on shoulders.

“They are also welcome to march in a separate group, in remembrance.

“Anybody, adult or child supervised by an adult, can join in their part of the march. We don’t care how many there are.

“We have a specific Group 17 in the march for family members of deceased veterans.

“School groups or community youth organisations, like the Scouts, Girl Guides and Cadets are all welcome. There are plenty of places for children to march.”

Gympie Sub Branch secretary Bob Stretton said the marches had always attracted young people.

“We very much encourage them to wear the medals of their fathers, mothers or grandparents, but they have to be worn properly.

“They should also wear covered footwear and neat and tidy dress, as a mark of respect,” he said.

“You can see the point in Brisbane if there are more children than veterans,” Mr Friske said.

“As far as Brisbane is concerned, if they had provision for one group with three students from each school, under the one banner, that would be good.

“We’ve probably only got a few World War II veterans who actually march now. As the years go by, it will be the Korean veterans taking the head of the parade and there aren’t many of them either,” he said.

“Children have to be part of it, because when Bob and I are gone, who’s going to do it?” he said.

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