Bigger park needed for Anzac, warns RSL sub-branch president
GRAFTON RSL sub-branch president Brian Bultitude has warned Clarence Valley Council it might need to build a bigger park for future Anzac Day ceremonies if the numbers turning out for the service continue to grow.
Yesterday thousands of Grafton residents flocked to Memorial Park to honour Australia's war veterans from the First World War to the modern conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"The numbers just keep growing. It's an amazing thing to see," he said.
"It's the schoolkids that get me. This year we're in the middle of school holidays and there are just so many kids from the schools here.
"That's got to be our future. There's no more World War 1 veterans, we've only got a couple from World War 2 here, so it's vital the young people keep the tradition going strong.
The youth certainly lived up to Mr Bultitude's hopes.
Grafton Public School student Lilli Corbett led off, followed by Jessica Walters from Westlawn Primary, Kurt Bloomer from Grafton High and Lisa O'Donohue from McAuley Catholic College.
Although an Anzac Day service veteran, he admitted to choking back a few tears during this year's speeches.
"When those kids were speaking today, I have to confess a lump came up in the back of my throat a few times," he said.
"What they said was beautiful and the amount of time they would have spent researching for their talks, well it must have been huge."
Mr Bultitude said the support for Anzac Day continued to grow across the board.
"At the dawn service today we had 90 in the march," he said.
"We used to be looking at crowds around the 30 to 40 mark."
Mr Bultitude said the number of young people turning up wearing medals belonging to their parents and grandparents was one of the most gratifying parts of the day.
"When I'm no longer able to come along, I would love to think my kids and their kids would wear my medals on Anzac Day," he said.