Changing the face of Anzac ceremony

20th April 2017 11:08 AM
REMEMBERANCE: Vice President of the Byron Bay RSL Sub-Branch Vi Hill with Presicent Robert Asquith. REMEMBRANCE: Vice president of the Byron Bay RSL Sub-Branch Vi Hill with president Robert Asquith planning next week's new look Anzac Day ceremony. Christian Morrow

THERE will be a changing of the guard at this years' Anzac Day ceremony in Byron Bay when high school students from the area take over running the 11am service for the first time.

The idea is the brainchild of Byron Bay RSL sub-branch president Robert Asquith and vice president Vi Hill who see the move as a way to ensure the ceremony maintains its relevance to a younger generation.

"For several years the local high school students have participated in the service but this year we want to see them lead the service,” said Mr Asquith.

"As we old soldiers pass on the idea is for them to take over, and leading a community ceremony such as this will be a great educational experience for them as well.

Mr Asquith said seeing younger faces step up to lead may encourage younger soldiers from more recent campaigns to get involved in the commemoration and the RSL organisation as well.

"There has always been that barrier for younger soldiers to join the RSL, it was the same for those of us who served in Vietnam,” Mr Asquith said.

"When we fist returned we were shunned by the community and the RSL and had to start a our own separate Vietnam veterans organisation before we felt at home in the RSL.

At the same time as tradition is changing one local RSL member Syl Reed is looking to bring back an old tradition.

"The long-time tradition of Byron Bay's sporting and service clubs placing books at the Memorial gates on ANZAC Day in lieu of floral wreaths has dwindled over the last few years,” said Mr Reed.

"The original idea was to help the various schools increase their students' knowledge and awareness of our country's military history and involvement in conflicts by placing books on that subject at the gates during the 11am commemorative service with the books then distributed among the various school libraries.

"Over time, the themes of these donations changed to include topics such as the ocean, our country's history and cultural subjects.

"Hopefully we can raise awareness of this idea and rally to supplement our school's reference stocks with this annual gesture not only of Remembrance but community support of our educators and their facilities.

For more information about this worthwhile event contact the RSL Sub-Branch secretary on: byronbay rslnsw@bigpond.com .