“I THINK it is important to come here so we don’t forget about them.”
Kie Sunderland, 12, pauses and furrows her brow as she considers her response then continues.
“It puts into perspective what they went through for us.”
Out of the mouths of babes, as they say — young Kie’s thoughtful answer was perhaps one of the most simple and succinct explanation of why many attended the Anzac Day dawn service in Wangaratta yesterday.
More than 1000 people surrounded the cenotaph at Ovens Street, gathered silently in the darkness, the moon still visible as it dipped toward the horizon.
Wangaratta RSL president Warren Garrett believed it was the best crowd yet for a dawn service in the city, after several years of increasing attendance.
“I think that’s down to a lot of the publicity being given to the old Anzac legend, with the 100th anniversary coming up next year,” he said.
“But more so, I think there are a lot of families who are looking for an Australian tradition, and are wanting to make sure their children and grandchildren are aware of it.”
That sentiment seemed to be reflected in the crowd, made up more of families and younger veterans or servicemen rather than Diggers of old.
Among them were Kie and her brother Alistair, 13, and father Peter Sunderland, who served in the navy for 21 years.
With his own connection to the armed forces, Mr Sunderland said he felt it important to pay respect to those who came before him — and has clearly instilled that in his children.
“It is the proper and respectful thing to do,” Alistair said.
For Wangaratta’s Chris Jackson and her husband David, it’s about keeping the memory of their family members alive.
Mrs Jackson’s grandfather served in World War I and her uncle in World War II.
“I usually go to the day service but I felt it was really important to come this morning,” she said.
“There’s something about coming at this time, you’ve got to make more of an effort,” Mr Jackson said.
Annette Jones’ father used to take her to every dawn service while growing up in Launceston, Tasmania, and it’s something she has never forgotten.
She’s passed that on to her son, Joshua Jones, who said the day was about not forgetting what others sacrificed.
“It’s easy to let that slip,” he said.
But to survey the crowd — as the first lone note of the Last Post rang out loud, crisp and clear, and the first hint dawn tinged the sky — Wangaratta won’t be forgetting in a hurry.