By Taylah Eastwell
With medals hard earnt pinned to their chests, the site of veterans and descendants marching proudly down Monbulk’s main street was an act welcomed by the hundreds of onlookers lining the streets.
In a compelling act of respect and honour, family members wore proudly the medals passed down from relatives who served their country in the fields of war. The long parade flowed from the RSL to the round-a-bout, with local CFA members, scouts, girl guides and students from Monbulk Primary School also marching as the music of the bagpipes spilled through the town.
At 10am, the marchers congregated at the Monbulk RSL to remember the service of Australian and New Zealand soliders, both past and present.
RSL president Bill Ford addressed the crowd for a ceremony, using the opportunity to speak on the government’s recent announcement of a Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide.
“This week I was pleased that our Prime Minister, Mr Morrison, announced the Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide. In my opinion, I believe it to be some 75 years overdue. The reason I believe that is many veterans from WWI and WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan have taken their own lives and battled with the department that is supposed to provide everything they need,” Mr Ford said.
“Afghanistan, we lost 41 veterans. Since 2014 to current, we have lost over 700 to suicide. The first two weeks of this year we lost 13 young veterans to suicide. It’s alarming and very upsetting,” he said.
Mr Ford also said Monbulk RSL have a welfare officer in training for any veterans who many need help.
“I would ask each and every one of you if you know any veterans who may need help, let us know, and ask them if they’re alright, sometimes that’s all they need,” he said.
“These veteran suicides must stop and they must stop now, and we all have a part in making that happen,” he said.
At the service, veterans read ‘In Flanders Field’ and the Ode to the Fallen, while the crowd joined together in a minute silence.
Students from Monbulk Primary School, members of the CFA, Yarra Ranges Council and RSL members laid wreaths at the conclusion of the service.
Monbulk’s Ben Mahoney, a musician who marches every year in the city, took the opportunity to march in Monbulk this year with his daughter Brianna given the city march was capped.
“It certainly gives you goosebumps on the back of your head to march and after nearly 30 something years of doing it it still gives me the same feeling. It’s an honour to march any Anzac Day,” he said.