Peace ceremony gains support of RSL
The City of Lismore RSL Sub-Branch and the Remembering and Healing Old Wounds (RaHOW) group have united, despite their past differences, to hold a special peace ceremony in Lismore on United Nations Day later this year.
RaHOW was at odds with the RSL last year after the group decided to hold a peace service on Anzac Day and, while the group still plans to hold an event on Anzac Daythis year after the official program, they have worked hard to build bridges with the RSL and find common ground.
City of Lismore RSL Sub-Branch president Bob Mowle said he has unanimous support from his members to support the United Nations Day peace ceremony.
“I feel it’s right and proper that the RSL has some involvement – I think it’s hard to change the attitude of the poor blokes who went through WWII, but I think the community in general is changing its attitude,” he said. “The POW Association of Australia has agreed for the RSL of NSW to send representatives to Japan to talk to Japanese veterans, and I think that shows a gradual movement towards lowering the barriers that have existed between Japanese veterans and Australian veterans since WWII.
“Personally, I think society has to change as a whole. We have to become more accepting, not just whites and blacks or Christians and Muslims, but everyone. Society is divided down so many lines – ethnic lines, religious lines, the line between rich and poor.
“I think this ceremony is about trying to get everyone to see each other as people and I think the RSL being a part of it is a positive way to connect with the broader community.”
RaHOW founders Sabina Baltruweit and Margaret Loong have invited state president of the RSL Don Rowe to attend the event as well as a representative from the United Nations in Australia. They are thrilled to have the RSL’s backing for the event.
“We are a peace group and peace really starts at home,” Sabina said. “I really believe people who feel allegiance to different groups and organisations have a lot more in common than they think. Our disagreement last year with the RSL was a reflection of the diverse opinions in this community and in this world, but we’re finding respectful ways to work together towards a bigger goal of living together peacefully.”
It will be held on United Nations Day, October 24, at the Lismore City Hall auditorium and they have secured Mayor Jenny Dowell as MC. Page MP Janelle Saffin and Lismore MP Thomas George will both attend the event and Michael Douglas from Sanctuary Northern Rivers has agreed to be one of several keynote speakers.
“As part of the official ceremony we want representatives from all different ethnic backgrounds and faiths,” Sabina said. “We want it to be inclusive of all.”
Anyone who would be interested in taking part in the ceremony should phone Sabina on 6688 6214.