And in the morning . . .
By EMMA CORNFORD
AS Steve Wainwright sat by the Clarence River at Memorial Park in Grafton yesterday, he did not quite fit in with the crowd gathered for Remembrance Day.
Clad in his cycle jeans, boots and leather vest emblazoned with a beret-wearing skull, he was there as a member of the Veterans Motorcycle Club of Australia, whose members often travel to small country towns to join residents in their war commemorations.
"People can sometimes be a little stand-offish, but ... we're just there as veterans supporting veterans like the RSL," he said.
"We try and get to isolated areas to help smaller towns show their respects."
As a former army member himself and with a father who served in Darwin during the Japanese bombing in World War II, Mr Wainwright agreed with Grafton RSL sub-branch president Brian Bultitude, who called for ex-service personnel to tell their children and grandchildren about their experiences.
"Absolutely. There are the official history and records of war which provide a bit of an insight, but it's nice to talk to soldiers to get a personal account of war, especially for their family members because it effects the way they live the rest of their life," Mr Wainwright said.
"My dad opened up a little bit just before he died and then I went and looked at his service records and found out n Continued page 3
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a bit more, but ... all we knew as kids growing up was that he was a sergeant in the airforce -- and that was only because his uniform hung in the cupboard."
Mr Wainwright said he was disappointed with the turnout to Memorial Park, particularly that very few members of the public showed up to commemorate one of the most important days in recent history.
"There were a lot of organisations represented but it's important for members of the general public to show their support for veterans as well."
In Grafton, two minutes silence and a fly over just after 11am marked the commemoration service.
Other services in the Valley reported 'wonderful' turnouts, with around 120 people at the Maclean cenotaph and more than 70 veterans, members of the public and children at the Yamba service.
"It was a very successful day and a very enjoyable day," said Maclean RSL sub-branch welfare officer, Rod McPhee.
"We had two guest speakers; Tony Perriman spoke about the RSL and John Dougherty spoke about his return to Sandakan, and we had about 80 people sit down for lunch."
The Grafton District Services Club also had a good turnout to their Remembrance Day luncheon, with sub-branch vice president Athol Marriott saying it was a good chance for old friends to meet up.
"A lot of the people here we only see on Anzac and Remembrance Days and it's a good to catch up," he said.
"It's also about remembering our comrades and the ones who didn't come back with us. When you make friends like that, people who have had to watch your back and you've trusted with your life, well, they're lasting friendships."