PROUD RECOGNITION: NSW Minister for Veteran's Affairs David Elliott (centre) and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis with students from Clarence Valley Anglican School, Grafton High School, Grafton Public School and Westlawn Public School at the soil collection ceremony at Memorial Park, Grafton.
PROUD RECOGNITION: NSW Minister for Veteran's Affairs David Elliott (centre) and Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis with students from Clarence Valley Anglican School, Grafton High School, Grafton Public School and Westlawn Public School at the soil collection ceremony at Memorial Park, Grafton. Jarrard Potter

Grafton's soil to help honour veterans

SOIL means a lot of things to different people, but to soldiers its important because that is where their blood is spilled.

As part of the Anzac Memorial Centenary Project to upgrade the memorial at Hyde Park, soil samples from the 1600 war memorials from around NSW are being collected to feature in the renovated Hall of Service.

NSW Minister for Veterans Affairs David Elliott was on hand in Grafton to help collect soil from Memorial Park to remember the soldiers who answered the call to fight and lost their lives during combat.

Mr Elliott said collecting the soil from the broad range of sites across the state is a reminder of the great sacrifices made by men across all of our communities in the Great War.

"A century on, we honour these men by taking a sample of soil and placing it in the Hall of Service at the refurbished Anzac Memorial so that it can be appreciated and commemorated by generations to come" he said.

"The big memorial in Sydney at Hyde Park is going to have the names of the 1699 suburbs, towns, cities, hamlets and villages where soldiers actually joined the first Australian Imperial Force and marched off to war in the First World War. That way when these soldiers are commemorated, they're commemorated by the fact that the name of the town they enlisted in is also on the war memorial.

"For the soldier, the soil is where the blood is spilled into the soil, so it's a very sacred thing, and it will be next to the names of the villages and towns where they have came from."

Grafton RSL Sub Branch president Brian Bultitude said it was an honour and privilege that soil from Grafton's Memorial Park would be included in the upgraded Hyde Park memorial.

Mr Gulaptis said he was pleased Mr Elliott made the trip to Grafton as part of the project.

"It is important to have the Minister here to take part in the Grafton soil collection, recognising the sacrifice and service of Regional Australians in the Great War," he said.

Mr Elliott said the upgrades to the Hyde Park memorial were part of making sure the memorial was fulfilled to its original design.

"Back 80 years ago when it was built, it was supposed to have a water feature, but when the Great Depression came there was no money left," he said.

"The memorial was being built on public subscriptions, so when the NSW Government paid off its debt it was decided to spend $80 million to bring the war memorial to its original design."



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