Best Anzac Day ever as huge crowds overwhelm expectations
THE Anzac Day centenary events in Lismore on Saturday saw an unprecedented turnout by the public, inspiring one veteran to describe it as "the best Anzac Day ever".
Secretary of the City of Lismore RSL Sub-Branch Wilson McClelland said crowds at both the dawn service, Anzac march and wreath-laying service numbered were three or four times greater than previous years.
"The support from the public was overwhelming, it was absolutely huge; beyond what we expected," Mr McClelland said.
"I've been talking to people all day and they've never seen so many people turn out for Anzac Day."
During the morning parade crowds - packed six metres deep at some spots - clapped the marching veterans.
Vietnam veteran Ed Margetts, from Goolmangar, said attending the parade was about respecting his mates.
Times were different when he returned from war.
"Now you're accepted, then you weren't. You were shunned," he said.
Being accepted and honouring his service by marching in parade had given him a great sense of "relief", he said.
Another marcher, ten-year-old Bridget Wallace, was wearing the medals passed down from her grandfather and great uncle Cec and Paul Wallace from their Second World War service in New Guinea.
The family's war involvement doesn't end there: Bridget's brother Tom served in Iraq and Afghanistan, while her other brother Mark is in the RAAF and has just returned from the Middle-East.
Addressing the crowd at the wreath-laying service, Lismore RSL sub-branch president Cec Harris said the huge public turnout was "heartening" to veterans whose numbers were thinner with each passing year.
Later, the service's guest speaker, Royal Australian Navy Commander Tim Watson, said Anzac Day wasn't about great military matters, but the sacrifice made by individual men on the ground.
Commander Watson directly addressed the young people gathered at the service, imploring them to keep the flame of Anzac alive.