Hundreds gathered for an Anzac Day service in Pakenham to pay tribute to servicemen and women and to commemorate the special day in Australian and New Zealand history.
Pakenham RSL president Brad McCann welcomed the crowd at the service held at the Pakenham war memorial outside the Pakenham library where Reverend Chris Menley led the community in prayer.
“It is heartening to see the number of people here attending this dawn service. Especially the younger generations,” Mr McCann said.
“We meet here not to glorify war and praise victors but to remember those who have served our country during times of conflict and crisis and to reflect upon their selfless sacrifice.
“We gather to honour the memory of those men and women who paid with their lives as a result of wounds received while many returned to their families damaged in body, mind and spirit.”
Reverend Menley said, “We’ve had events recently of horror and tragedy which have impacted us in different ways.
“But in the midst of it we also have seen acts of courage, selflessness, and compassion.
“People participate in these events to seek to bring peace. We’ve been reminded of our vulnerability, our humanity, and we are stunned by the destruction of life, building, landmarks and communities so we give thanks today for the bravery and generosity of ordinary people.”
Guest speaker Lynn Westland from Berwick, spoke about her experience as a servicemen’s mother.
She discussed the worries and concerns she had while her son was away serving in Iraq back in 2004.
“He was based in Darwin and he phoned us to let us know that he was being deployed to Iraq,” she recalled.
“I had dreaded this phone call, and holding back the tears, I was silent. He said, ‘Mum, I’m a soldier, this is what I do – this is what I am trained for’.
“He was right. It was his job, he signed up for it and he was ready to do what he had been trained for.”
Her son was in Iraq for six months and during that time, Ms Westland said she thought about him every minute of every day.
“Prior to going into the army, my son had travelled the world extensively, so he had a lot of life experiences – but going to Iraq changed him,” she said.
“My son went into the army as a loving, relaxed, easy-going, funny, witty, happy young man, with a beautiful smile and without a care in the world.
“He didn’t come home that same easy-going person. But he did come home.”
Current and former members of Australia’s defence forces, service groups, community groups, along with members of the public were invited to lay wreaths at the Cenotaph as a mark of respect to the men and women who served their country.