WA Minister for Veterans Joe Francis joined RSLWA President Peter Aspinall, Fremantle RSL President Rob Cashman and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt at E Shed today to collect soil from the port for the new Flanders Fields Memorial Garden at the Canberra War memorial.
Poppies will be grown in the garden in memory of the 12,000 Australians who died in Belgium in 1917 during the Great War-World War I.
I don’t feel too well today so I nearly forget to go to the Fremantle remembrance day ceremony at Monument Hill, but happy I did not miss the important tradition which was initiated by former Freo firefighter Chris Grisenwood and his mate Vic about 14 years ago. Vic, whose last name I unfortunately don’t know, told me today he is 92 years old.
Politicians Simone McGurk, Lyn McLaren and Simon O’Brien were present, as was Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and many spectators.
It is ANZAC Day tomorrow and a day I alway look forward to. There is something special about the parade through Fremantle and the hundreds of Australian flags waved by children and grown ups, when veterans, soldiers, sailors, pilots and cadets march through the city centre.
For many years I was reluctant to join in as I believed it would be a celebration of war, but when one sees the faces of the mainly old men one realises this is a day to celebrate and commemorate the lives of all those young people who died or were maimed in atrocious circmstances. For many the trauma is still there and quite visible on their solemn faces and I am happy Australia pays so much respect and that the nation stops to honour people and not a sporting event.
Dawn service is at Monument Hill, breakfast at Kings Square, and the parade will be at 11 am, so come along!
There is an historic exhibition at the Fremantle Maritime Museum about the WW I battle between the HMAS Sydney and the German cruiser SMS Emden, which happened on November 9, 1914 near the Cocos Islands.
The Last Gentlemen of War tells a story of humour, decency and honour and recreates the battle that ended in the Emden being run onto a reef to save the 243 crew still alive after more than 120 had been killed by heavy fire from the Sydney. Captain John Glossop of the HMAS Sydney wired the message “Emden beached and done for.”
Remarkably the surviving Germans escaped and after a harrowing adventure reached Constantinople where they joined other German forces.
The exhibition is free and runs till April 26 next year.
This is not a Fremantle story but it is one many of us cried about. MALALA YOUSAFZAY, who was shot in the head by the Taliban because she spoke out about education for girls in her country, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Kailash Satyarthi.
They were awarded the prestigious prize “For their struggle against surpression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
It is a reminder to all of us that “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”
I believe it is our duty in Australia to engage in the privilege of the democratic process and to stand up for minority groups and social justice.