Imparting ANZAC Day traditions to the next generation in Gosford.

ANZAC Day is a day for the country to unite, pause, reflect, and express deep gratitude to past and present personnel for their unwavering sacrifice.

With 25 April just around the corner, RSL clubs and their sub-branches are frantically organising events – from Dawn Services to impactful displays of poppies – to mark the commemorative day. One common goal they all share is to impart these ANZAC Day traditions to the next generation.

“Commemorative events such as Anzac Day are a rich part of our history. It is essential that we educate and inform younger generations about Anzac Day and other dates of significance so they can get a sense of the sacrifices made for our freedoms,” RSL and Services Clubs Association chief executive Margot Smith told Club Management.

“Some clubs are engaging with schools to increase awareness of commemoration, other clubs are tweaking the service to better engage with young people, and yet others are creating deeper engagement with key school projects centred around Anzac Day.

“We have seen record numbers of people at Anzac Day services, and with that, a high proportion of younger generations. RSL & Services Clubs need to ensure we can retain the tradition that is so important, while also evolving to create meaningful connections and understanding in our youth.”

Bathurst RSL marketing manager Janneke van der Sterren agreed, describing how important it is to involve the younger generation in ANZAC Day events.

“By engaging with our young people, we are securing the ANZAC Legacy and supporting our veterans for generations to come,” she said.

“We are an RSL Club, and the respect for our veterans and their welfare means a great deal to us. Our relationship with our sub-branch and our community has never been stronger, and we strive to ensure that our history – which is so deeply entwined with the history of Bathurst – is preserved and promoted for many generations to come.”

Local schools in Bathurst are invited take part in the ANZAC Day March.

“The school students lead the march, which starts at 10.15am, from the Bathurst RSL Club to our War Memorial Carillon. The Bathurst Youth Mayor is also invited each year to speak at the 10.30am service at the Carillon,” van der Sterren explained.

“Our sub-branch also conducts services with some of the schools in the days after ANZAC Day. This allows students who are unable to participate in ANZAC Day due to school holidays to take part.”

It’s a similar story at Merrylands RSL. Marketing manager Jane Smith said: “As the number of veterans is diminishing, we feel it is extremely important that we educate the younger generation about the ongoing welfare and support of our diggers.”

Annually, the Western Sydney club reaches out to its local primary and secondary schools to play a part during its Dawn Service, including laying down wreaths and presenting the ANZAC reflection.  

The captain and vice-captain of Cerdon College in Merrylands were asked to lay wreaths at last year’s service.

This year, Merrylands RSL expects over 2,000 will attend the ANZAC Day service that will be themed “Our Hero’s”.

“We are fortunate enough to have the great, great-granddaughter of the late Charles Mance, eight-year-old Eva, who will be presenting the reflecting on behalf of the younger generation about Charles and his heroism in Darwin during World War II,” Smith said.

Over on the NSW central coast, the Gosford RSL sub-branch oversees the ANZAC Day services and extends the invitation to the Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge trekkers to participate in the March and the main service.

“One of the 2023 trekkers, Patrick Ainsworth, has been invited by the sub-branch to address those attending the main service this year, as he is also the school captain of Kariong Mountains High School. He will also participate with his school in the March before the service. Two other 2023 trekkers, Allie Reid and Melissa Cheng, will also march with their schools,” Gosford RSL CEO Russell Cooper said.

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