ANZAC Day March - April 25, 2006
Melburnians have turned out in huge numbers to pay tribute to returned servicemen and women in annual Anzac Day commemorations. A record-breaking crowd of 35,000 attended the dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance, while up to 80,000 are thought to have either watched or joined the Anzac Day parade through Melbourne's city centre.
Crowds along Swanston Street and St Kilda Road stretched from near Collins Street to the Shrine of Remembrance for the march. The Shrine's chief executive, Denis Baguley, said the turnout was "unbelievable". "It's certainly, as far as we know it is (a record). It's in the order of 5000 more than last year," Mr Baguley said of the dawn service. "When I arrived here at 4.15am there were probably a thousand people here already."
The crowds exceeded the expectations of the Metropolitan Ambulance Service, which had expected 25,000 at the dawn service and 60,000-80,000 for the march. Flags outside Melbourne's Federation Square were at half-mast for the march, which began at 9am. Men and women in uniform, old diggers, musicians in marching bands and children wearing their relatives' medals are taking part in the march.
The march began at the corner of Swanston and Flinders streets and finished at the Shrine. With no surviving World War I combatants, people have gathered to cheer on returned veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, East Timor and more recent conflicts such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Victorian RSL president Major-General David McLachlan said he was looking to "compress" the marathon march and commemoration ceremony, which took about five hours and was not completed until 2pm. Add the 6am dawn service, which attracted a record crowd of 35,000, and the whole affair took eight hours. He said streamlining the parade would be achieved through tighter configuration. "Instead of having columns of three, we'll get back to the six and seven and eight abreast," he said.
And while descendants of Australia's Turkish enemies at Gallipoli have marched for years, they did so officially for the first time yesterday. Bora Kaya, 27, who was marching with the RSL's Turkish sub-branch, said they were well received. He hoped that in the future Turks would be not be known as a foe: "Old enemies, new friends."Story from The (Melbourne) Age (AAP). Pictures by Betty Taylor.
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The American Ex-Servicemen's Association had 30 participants this year. They were led by Major Todd Cook, a DCMA Contracts Officer stationed at Point Cook and newly arrived in Australia. "Old Glory" was carried by TSgt Joey Tucker, and the Australian Flag was carried by MSgt Rick Pelletier. We welcomed new member David Bowman and his wife Cindy, as well as John Clegg, WW II 1st Marine Division Veteran visiting from Port Lavaca, Texas.