ANZAC Day Q&A with RSL NSW members

5 RSL NSW members share what ANZAC Day means to them.

RSL NSW members, current serving personnel, their families and the general public gathered for ANZAC Day services across the state on Tuesday.

We asked five RSL NSW members what ANZAC Day means to them, how they reached out to colleagues and mates on ANZAC Day, and what it means for the community to come together as one.

Matthew Sun, Nabiac RSL sub-Branch

“My family and I went to the local dawn service here in Nabiac, and later had breakfast in the park with members of the local veteran community and their families.

“We’re pretty lucky to have a community where we can meet people at an event in the park, invite them back to the sub-Branch and get them involved. We provide a welcoming atmosphere where everyone can relax and network with people they don’t normally get to meet.

“In the afternoon, I went home and caught up with a couple of friends over the phone, just to touch base and say hello.”

Trevor Cochrane, Maroubra RSL sub-Branch

“I attended the Commemoration Service at the Anzac Memorial’s Pool of Remembrance in the afternoon. There must have been 3,000 people there. It was great to see the community come out and support our veterans.

“At the pub afterwards, I was about to buy myself a drink when a bloke put $50 on the bar and said, ‘That’s to buy drinks for a couple of diggers’. Moments like that show me there’s still great respect for our veterans.

“ANZAC Day gives me a chance to remember my comrades who have passed. I remember the day when my colleague Brett Till was shot in action overseas. His wife Bree was at home pregnant with their son. To finally meet them and tell their son what an incredible father he had – that was special.”

Rohan McCardell, Ashfield RSL sub-Branch

“We managed to get eight schools from the surrounding area involved in a service on the Sunday before ANZAC Day. That’s the most we’ve had attend a Sunday service; I get a buzz out of saying that. We tasked students with jobs to do so they didn’t feel like they were just standing around, including handing out pamphlets and assisting our more elderly members.

“On ANZAC Day I participated in the Sydney CBD March. It was pleasing to see so many people lining the route with their kids. We have to keep the ANZAC spirit alive, and bridge the connection between younger people and more senior people.

“We have to convince younger veterans that their local RSL sub-Branch is a place where they can come and feel included – we’re not asking them to come and play the pokies.”

LTCOL Robyn White, Lane Cove RSL sub-Branch

“On the Saturday before ANZAC Day, I read the Ode before an A-League game at Allianz Stadium on behalf of RSL NSW President Ray James OAM. There was only a small crowd, but it was a privilege to be involved and have ANZAC Day be acknowledged in that way.

“On ANZAC Day, I attended a service organised by Lane Cove RSL sub-Branch and Lane Cove Council, where I had been asked to lay a wreath on behalf of servicewomen. It was nice to do that with my husband there, who is currently serving.

“To me, ANZAC Day is a positive way of remembering all service personnel, not only veterans but those who are currently serving and peacekeeping forces as well. I’m not always aware of what the community thinks about ANZAC Day and commemoration, so to have such a large crowd at the service was heartwarming.”

Garry McKay, Macksville RSL sub-Branch

“Our town has a population of about 7,000 people. I would say we had 800 or 900 at the Dawn Service, which is better than we had before COVID.

“Everyone in the area is dedicated to remembering our diggers who didn’t come back home, and we also recognise those who did and those who are still serving.”

The RSL NSW Member Recruitment Toolkit contains resources to help sub-Branches connect with veterans and their families. It’s free for sub-Branches to access – download the toolkit today.

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