Across West Gippsland, thousands of people gathered to commemorate Anzac Day and pay their respects to the fallen soldiers who died to protect our nation.
In Warragul, hundreds of families, soldiers and their families willingly braced the icy weather to attend the 6am dawn service in the centre of town.
As the sun began to rise, residents and visitors laid poppies at the cenotaph.
Warragul’s dawn service almost attracted the same numbers as the morning service and Anzac Day parade.
Speaking at Warragul’s dawn and day services, RSL president Noel Tucker described Anzac Day as one for remembrance and tribute to the 100,000 service people who sacrificed their lives to ensure our freedom.
He said those that served in Gallipoli were ordinary men who were asked to do extraordinary things and from that the Anzac spirit was born.
“We reflect on the loss of comrades in all wars. The loss for their families and friends and the lives that have never been completed,” he said.
Social historian, Dr David Schmitt, gave a controversial speech at the Warragul morning service.
Dr Schmitt questioned the true meaning of Anzac Day and how the event should be commemorated in the years to come.
“Our commitment to Anzac Day over the years has laxed and waned but it remains the most significant event on the public calendar”, Dr Schmitt said.
Dr Schmitt argues that there is much confusion over whether or not Anzac Day is a cause for celebration or commemoration.
“I believe commemoration has won but both have existed in a tense relationship. We need to reflect the purpose of the day to ensure its survival in the future.”
Dr Schmitt also believes that in recent years Australia’s most important contribution to the western front in WWI was being acknowledged but not so in the past.
Apparently, Australia’s western front contribution had been outshone by its more minor contribution at Gallipoli.
“We need to reflect on the barbarism and brutality of war.”
“We need to reflect on the citizens we send to war and when we disagree with that war we need to make our dissatisfaction known.”
Meanwhile, in Drouin, the Warragul Salvation Army Band led a traditional march that spilled out onto the streets and progressed along Princes Way.
Warragul’s Salvation Army Band was accompanied by the Drouin Fire Brigade, servicemen and women, local police members and a number of youth organisations.
25 instrumentalists that formed the Salvation Army band played hymns throughout the laying of wreaths, poppies and other tributes.
Drouin’s festivities marked the formation of the RSL, the 75th anniversary of the Siege of Tobruk in WW2 and 50 years since Australia’s conflict in South Vietnam at Long Tan.
Attendance at the Drouin Anzac Day services was slightly less compared to previous years but the large crowd was enthusiastic nonetheless.