RSL and Services clubs across Australia have commemorated the 50th anniversary of Vietnam Veteran’s Day, marking half a century since Australian forces left Vietnam.
CMNL (Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club Group) is one such group committed to nurturing strong connections between Australian Veterans and the community, continuing to evolve commemorations to ensure that the group provides occasions for veterans and their families to connect with younger generations.
On Sunday 13 August, Australian and Vietnamese veterans, their families, and the local community were welcomed at Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and the 78th anniversary of Victory in The Pacific Day.
The ceremony began with a Welcome to Country, followed by a catafalque party mounting the Bert Crook memorial. The crowd was then addressed by Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club Sub Branch committee members Muriel Buckland (Hon Secretary/Trustee) and Ken McIntyre OAM (president), before making way for Vietnam veteran and Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Club Sub Branch trustee Ernest Newbold, who shared his experiences as a veteran.
“I am pleased that the service was very well attended by members of the Club, Sub Branch and members of the community. Having conversed with the Vietnam veterans, they felt honoured and privileged to be invited to join. In my opinion, the day was a success in getting our veterans together. This will allow us to have ongoing follow up with them to ensure their welfare is looked after and know who they are in our local community. Bigger and better next year!” stated McIntyre.
Newbold thanked RSL and Services clubs for the support they provide to veterans.
“Fortunately, the RSL and ex-Servicemen Clubs provided a place to gather, we are able to hold association meetings, with a place and time for a room for us. Thank you to the RSL and other organisations for being there to support us.”
CMNL has created a special video featuring Newbold to honour veterans and their families.
Further north, Ballina RSL Club and Ballina RSL-Sub Branch marked the milestone with a record turnout for a sunset commemoration service at the Ballina cenotaph, followed by a sold-out veterans-only dinner and show event in the Ballina RSL auditorium.
The guest speaker, Murray Broomhall, was one of the three New Zealanders from an artillery forward observation party from New Zealand’s 161 Field Batery at the Battle of Long Tan.
Ballina RSL Ltd. CEO Bill Coulter expressed, “Our community is always grateful to have these opportunities to honour our veterans and the sacrifices they made for us. This is such an important milestone and we’re glad to have the opportunity to support the sub-branch in putting this event together.”
The President of the RSL Sub Branch added: “This 50th anniversary is a time for our veterans to reflect on what happened to them and their mates in this conflict and for us as a community to reflect on what these veterans did for us, the sacrifices they made. We’re very honoured by the large turnout of veterans and the public who attended the dusk service.”
RSL & Services Clubs Association CEO Margot Smith thanked all clubs for the not only their commemoration efforts, but for all the work done to support veterans.
“The 50th Anniversary of Vietnam Veterans Day marks a significant milestone in our history. Commemoration in clubs such as CMNL is a core role of RSL & Services Clubs, and is an opportunity to thank so many who didn’t get the recognition they deserved for generations. RSL & Services Clubs are here for the moments that matter, to provide connections that count. We will remember them. Lest we forget.”