Anzac Day 2019, Merimbula

As the march turned the corner into Beach Street the applause started, rippling through the large crowd who had gathered to commemorate Anzac Day in Merimbula.

Led by the South Coast Historic Vehicle Society's jeep carrying local veterans, there were students, carrying the Royal Australian Air Force ensign, the Royal Australian Navy white ensign and the national flag. They were followed by the catafalque party, veterans, servicemen and women and those marching to honour family members.

Reverend Anthony Frost spoke of the gift that the servicemen and women had given over the last 100 years. He called it a gift of peace, freedom and diverse culture.

He talked of the gift that nurses gave during two world wars, that of care and healing.

In WWI more than 3000 nurses joined the war effort with over 2500 serving overseas. By the end of the war 25 had given their lives. In WWII around 3500 nurses served with 71 losing their lives in active service abroad.

But he said there was no gift until it was received, something we did with our remembrance and commemoration.

"Another way we receive the gift is to remember the millions of men, women and children around the world who have not been given the gift of freedom and peace that we enjoy," Reverend Frost said.

But he said that some people didn't seem able to cope with freedom.

"People who fear and suspect the worst in others, especially people who are different, people who hoard their finances or resources because of some imagined fear of not having enough, people who terrorise with hatred and violence."

It was a theme that Lumen Christi student Annalise Piotrowski highlighted when she said it was up to us to combat hate. She talked of the "horrors of Christchurch and results of hate" but said there was an aftermath of love and compassion.

"Revenge and retribution only lead to further bloodshed," Annalise said.

Fellow student Luca Ziino referenced Leon Gellert's famous poem The Last to Leave which evokes the desolation and sorrow of the battlefield.

EMHS student Connor Kellalea talked of his great grand uncles who lost their lives at Gallipoli and fellow student Sean Fitzpatrick said both he and Connor had learnt loyalty and respect though being part of the Scouting movement and recognising the importance of raising and lowering the flag at the beginning and end of Scouting meetings.

"Anzac Day is a true national day of Australia," he said.

Many wreaths were laid while a small contingent from the Sapphire Coast Concert Band played various hymns.

Bugler Nicholas Hassanoff sounded The Last Post and Reveille before Ashley Brayden led the crowd in singing the national anthem.

This story Large crowd gathers in Merimbula first appeared on Merimbula News Weekly.