Anzac Day in Tocumwal might have dawned dull, cloudy and warm but by 10.30am, as the marchers were forming up behind their banners, the sun broke through.
First came the Cobram Pipe Band leading the troops, closely followed by returned veterans in golf carts.
Men and women in uniform came next representing the Royal Australian Air Force, and returned veterans, members of our fire brigades, and then the children from local schools — including the tiny tots from the preschool.
Last in the line-up were Tocumwal Pony Club members, some showing fine horsemanship when their mounts were spooked by the bagpipes.
After the official groups moved down Deniliquin St the general public followed in a respectful manner and just as the parade reached the Cenotaph at the RSL building, five light planes flew overhead.
The primary school children of Tocumwal sat on the grass and rose as one to sing the National Anthem and then later ‘The Last Anzac’.
Jeff Chamberlain, president of the Tocumwal RSL, spoke about the need to remember and hold sacred the memory of our Diggers and other combatants, especially the women in war roles like nursing staff who gave their lives for their country and tended our men in their time of need.
The local speaker this year was Janet Seaman of Shepparton who had been a friend of Captain Bob Fyffe of the 20th Light Horse.
Janet and her friend Steve Hicks brought with them two ex-trotters which she had trained to be like the ‘Walers’ which went to Palestine and featured so heavily in the Battle of Beersheba. Only one of these horses came home.
Janet grew up in Tocumwal and said Bob instilled in her the love of horses and the history of the 20th Light Horse Brigade, which consisted of men from Tocumwal and later Berrigan.
Janet, Steve and their horses were kitted out in WWI regalia and they wore heavy woollen uniforms which must have been very uncomfortable when the sun came out. One horse was wearing an actual WWI saddle.
The official guest speaker was Cpl Neil Holzapfel from the RAAF.
He spoke of the legends of ANZAC, in not what was lost by a defeat but what was achieved in the skills and audacity shown in that defeat and retreat.
Anzac Day is our day. We have overcome the feeling of darker days but remember how even in more modern days our troops are still making the sacrifice to keep us safe and free.
Our troops are defending our freedom and if we lose the ANZAC spirit we lose all that we gather to celebrate and who we are.
Local groups including the RSL Ladies Auxiliary, the Berrigan Shire, Tocumwal MPS and all the schools and service clubs dedicated wreaths to be placed at the foot of the cenotaph.
After the flag lowering, the playing of the ‘Last Post’ and then the raising of the flag again, the children sang ‘The Last Anzac’ and the ceremony concluded.
Many in the crowd went into the RSL Club for lunch and refreshments and to chat about days long past and the people who left our town to go to places far away to defend our freedom.
Some were lucky to return home but others made the supreme sacrifice and are buried on foreign shores.