It's been 100 years since our ANZACs first touched the sands of Gallipoli, but the impact of war is still felt today, writes PRISCILLA CRIGHTON
A tall white spire with a light at the tip rises from a large white concrete base, bearing a plaque with a laurel wreath, reading: Greater love hath no man. This is the Mount Morgan RSL War Memorial found in the town's Anzac Park.
Despite it being the only one of its type in Queensland, Anzac commemorative parks and war monuments are a common feature of regional towns throughout Australia, and none more so than in Central Queensland. In fact, Bundaberg has about 30 memorial tributes within the city limits - a testimony to our continuing respect and remembrance of our fallen soldiers.
April 25 this year marks the centenary of the first Anzac Day, a significant milestone for all Australians. For Central Queenslanders it will be a time to remember the many brave men that joined the Great War and while serving were wounded and, unfortunately in many cases, died. Many of these were amongst the first to sign up for the war, some on the day the local recruitment office opened.
According to Bronwyn Tarrier, author of Heroes All, a book detailing the lives of Central Queenslanders involved in Gallipoli, it was our best men that were keen to sign up for the war. "Few had any doubts about the need to serve their country even though several of them had only been in Australia for a few years. Many of them were young and most were still single, but this does not diminish the bravery of these men in answering the earliest call to defend 'The Empire'."
"These men were amongst our best, our bravest, our most honourable. Our most outstanding men were lost. This definitely changed our cities and towns forever."
CQUniversity historian Associate Professor Steve Mullins says the most obvious and significant impact on our regions was the war dead - "The loss of so many young men so quickly". However, these men will never be forgotten. "Every little town has a cenotaph with a list of the dead to remember them."
These cenotaphs have become an iconic feature of our cities and towns. They are placed prominently in town centres and are often surrounded by other war memorabilia. "These are still regarded as almost sacred places and are the site of each town's Anzac Day ceremony," says Assoc. Prof. Mullins.
Anzac Day ceremonies form part of our culture and contribute to our Australian identity. Despite a growing body of opinion that we put too much emphasis on Anzac Day, Associate Professor Mullins says as we reach the centenary of Anzac Day our support for the event will not waiver.
"Although, Anzac Day went through a decline in the l960s and 1970s, it revived sharply after 1980. Today, it's stronger than ever."
To read the full feature including profiles on some of Central Queensland's Gallipoli legends, visit CQUniversity's Be magazine http://goo.gl/7h3oQz
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