MOVING: Shania Oreb plays the Last Post at the Tewantin Dawn Service.
MOVING: Shania Oreb plays the Last Post at the Tewantin Dawn Service. John McCutcheon

Anzac spirit stays strong for Noosa as crowd remembers them

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A PROUD Digger on parade doubled up twice and then stooped over a third time at the Tewantin Anzac Day Noosa Dawn Service, where a solemn crowd stood up to 30 deep on the eastern flank.

But like a true Anzac, the elderly serviceman refused to buckle. Back straight, shoulders square, he had stood steady during piper Don Drysdale's bagpipe lament for the fallen, and the hauntingly sparse and beautiful Last Post played on violin by school student Shania Oreb.

The ode recited in the slowly fading dark by RSL veteran Phil Grainger before a sea of respectful Noosa locals, many of them families with youngsters soaking up so much Aussie sacrifice, said age will not weary our fallen soldiers.

But the years had taken a toll on this surviving Digger.

And when a concerned orange-clad SES volunteer asked if the medal-laden veteran serviceman was okay, he waved him away and stood tall as the angelic voices of the Good Shepherd Lutheran College singing the hymn seemed to lift his spirits. He stayed straight until the parade was dismissed.

Tewantin Noosa RSL Sub-Branch president Mick Reid was once again deeply impressed by the massive early turn out. Mick said his greatest concern was for Anzac Day in 10 years' time, when a lot of the Diggers of his generation might be gone as the ranks of the Vietnam Vets thin out.

He said it was like that for a while when the veterans of the World Wars started to get on in years.

"It will eventually be up to the younger ones to take this over who have just served, and it's not easy for them when they have families to look after.”

However, he believed with such a strong turnout of youngsters, the Anzac spirit will remain strong and he made special mention in his welcome address to local 16-year-old Jack Frey, a Premier's Anzac Prize winner, who on this very special day was in France.

Mick said Jack will be presenting a special plaque "on behalf our veterans to the local school in Villers-Bretonneux where 100 years ago over 1400 Diggers lost their lives liberating the town”.

"This engagement laid the way for the Allies to push for victory.

"Jack walks on the ground where boys like him and younger ... they'd lied about their age ... had fought and unfortunately died.

"Those four terrible years of War to End All Wars saw a whole community decimated. War has no winners.”

Jack's family was in the Dawn Service crowd at the cenotaph and mother Donna said she just taken a call from him. He was headed to bed for a short rest before the biggest day of his overseas mission of respect was to begin. Back in Tewantin, Mick said summed up why people had risen so early this day.

"The spirit of those whose names are etched on our cenotaph here are with us this morning. We pay homage to them and the thousands who perished or suffered in all conflicts over the years.”

Impressed by the turn out, were soldiers John Parkinson and his mate Rob Shaw who served in East Timor.

"You obviously join for a reason to serve your country and it's good, to come here on a day like this where you start to see a lot more younger people turn out and get involved,” Rob said.

John said: "I think it's great. If there's one day they're going to get out of bed early, this is the day they should do it.”

Lisa Pate of Cooroibah has been bringing her sons Jesse, 11, Miller, 9, and Rory,7, to this early parade for "lots of years now”.

"It's important because all the soldiers died for us and we remember them,” Jesse said.

"We wouldn't be here without them,” Miller added.


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