More than triple the usual crowd commemorated Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph outside the Yass Soldiers’ Memorial Hall last Friday, the rain providing a sufficient break to hold the service outdoors as planned. The community, including local main street business owners, lined the footpath, mostly all donning red poppies on their chests, as they paid their respects to the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice during various conflicts to help pave a better way forward for our country.

101-year-old veteran John Cockburn who served as a telegraphist during WW II, laying a wreath at the cenotaph in Yass. Photo courtesy of Yass Valley Council

The Master of Ceremonies needed his parade voice with sound equipment failures on the day however, MC Reverend Steve Neuhaus handled the difficulties with his usual humour.

Rev Neuhaus spoke with The Yass Valley Times following the Remembrance Day ceremony and said he was proud of the turnout from the community.

“The turnout and ceremony was amazing. It was probably three times the number of people I expected. It was just fantastic,” Rev Neuhaus said.

“It’s not quite the numbers of ANZAC Day just yet, but it’s good that Remembrance Day is growing. I thought there would only be about 20 or so people but today we had over 80.“

“I think Remembrance Day is becoming more poignant, because in Australian culture, it doesn’t have all the extra traffic that it does overseas, whereas ANZAC Day there’s all the extra bits and pieces such as Two-Up.“

Remembrance Day is all about commemorating the dead. What I’m trying to do this year is to shift the focus onto the families of people who fought overseas, because in the end, they suffered just as much as the servicemen and women. They’ve got to pick up the legacy and work with the legacy.

“I really think we have to start to bring that out and Remembrance Day gives us that opportunity to do that without all the extras.”

Singer Susan Gruber and pianist Kerry England led the crowd in the hymn Amazing Grace, the National Anthem and also played during the wreath laying. Veterans Sarah Watson and Cath Neuhaus read the prayers, along with MC Reverend Steve Neuhaus.

Singer Susan Gruber and pianist Kerry England

The Times also spoke to attendee Gladys Pearce, the sister of a Vietnam war veteran who was in action at the battle of Long Tan during his second tour. Mrs Pearce was proudly wearing her brother’s medals and had also brought along a framed diamante tapestry she made to donate to the Yass RSL Sub Branch.

“My brother, Jeffery Duroux, was a Vietnam Veteran. He was killed in action on his second tour. He fought at the Battle of Long Tan,” Mrs Pearce said.

“I created the tapestry. It was about six months in the making. I finished it in September. I donated it to the RSL.”

Gladys Pearce – sister to Vietnam war veteran Jeffery Duroux, killed in action

The online Virtual War Museum of Australia details Sargeant Duroux’s service and lists him as Killed In Action, South Vietnam 5 January 1969, aged 28 years. His second tour was with the 9th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (9RAR).