A record crowd attended Saturday’s Anzac Day dawn service at Coolum, even if there was some good-natured discussion about the final figure.
Coolum Peregian RSL president Bill Powell estimates there were 6000 people at the service, the local police chief says 4000.
But either figure swamps last year’s record attendance of 3000.
Mr Powell was delighted with the turnout of veterans, their families and citizens, who wanted to honour our past and present servicemen and women.
“It’s great the whole community got behind us, the schools, business houses, the surf club, the bowling club ... it was the whole general community,” he said.
The day began with stirring drum rolls from the Coolum High School band, announcing the start of the march to the cenotaph, where the veterans were greeted with spontaneous and sustained applause.
The Anzac Day address was given by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Flanagan (retired), who said although the day was primarily to honour those who had made the ultimate sacrifice the 3000-plus defence force personnel deployed overseas deserved our support and admiration as they continued “the Anzac spirit of their forefathers”.
“We may have gone from the trenches of the Western Front to the high-tech battlefield of today, but ultimately the skill, courage and character of those who serve our country is unquestionable,” he said.
“The spirit my father found amongst his mates in the Middle East of World War I is undoubtedly what I found in Vietnam and, later, in the Middle East,” he said.
“I have no doubt that it remains the same amongst our servicemen and women today.”
Mr Powell said Anzac Day was growing in popularity because most Australians had family links to serving personnel, from Gallipoli to today’s war theatres.
“I think Australians want to be proud of who they are,” he said.
“They’re looking for their heritage.
He said the nation was right behind our troops today, unlike at the time of the Vietnam conflict, which was an unpopular war.
“No war’s popular, but the threat of terrorism is real. People know it’s real and they don’t want it in our own backyards.”
“Everyone is supporting the troops – both political sides.
“It’s a great feeling that we’ve got those guys over there, very well trained, and they’ve got the support of not only the RSL sub-branches but from the community at large.”
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