Why Grafton Anzac Day is looking good for years to come
GRAFTON'S ex-service veterans have chosen 2019 to make one of the most impressive turnouts in nearly three decades said local RSL sub-branch secretary Dennis Benfield.
"I just want to add this is the best turn out of veterans for a Grafton service in the past 20 or more years," he told more than 1000 people gathered in Memorial Park yesterday morning.
Mr Benfield was equally pleased at the fabulous turn out from the public, despite this year's Anzac Day falling in the school holidays.
"It was very pleasing to see a lot of school children here, even though it was the school holidays," he said.
He said the younger veterans had turned out this year in greater numbers, which helped boost numbers.
"In previous years, unfortunately, they have not chosen to be involved."
Mr Benfield also praised the involvement of the four school students, Brad Chapman, Shanae Crispin, Lotte Pereira and Victoria Clarke, who addressed the service.
"We go to the schools in February to let them know the topics we want them to speak on, so they have time to prepare," he said. "But the level of research and the time they must have put into these speeches was truly remarkable.
"Young Brad's speech on the Kokoda Track was remarkable for being able to draw together his own experience of walking the track with his research into the history of the battle."
Sub-branch president Brian Bultitude said it was wonderful to see so many veterans marching.
"It's a changing of the guard, if you like to call it that," he said.
"We're down to our last two or three World War II veterans, so it's important to see vets from more recent times stepping in."
Mr Bultitude said it was important for people to remember the sacrifice Australian servicemen have made since 1860 when the first contingent from Australia went overseas.
"In that time more than 102,000 men and women have laid down their lives for their country," he said.
The other remarkable event during yesterday's ceremony was the low-level arrival of a RAAF FA/18 Hornet, which the RSL organised to fly over ceremonies in Grafton and Maclean.