AMID the gloomy weather on Tuesday morning, Bobby Whybrow stared up towards Albury's most famous hill and smiled knowingly.
It was a gesture made with a nod to his Wiradjuri history and those who are commemorated by the 30-metre tall memorial that sits on the rise which was renamed from Western to Monument Hill in honour of the landmark for war dead.
"I looked up at Monument Hilll....and smiled and remembered not just Aboriginal people who gave up their lives fighting but everyone who did," Mr Whybrow said.
His pleasure was derived from what happened the night before at an Albury Council meeting.
It was there that councillors voted 5-4 to spend $30,000 on installing poles to fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags at the memorial.
The decision came after nearly 40 minutes of debate which was at times tense, heated and poignant.
That outcome was preceded by more than six months of back-and-forth with the erection of the poles at the solemn site stirring arguments over unity, history and politics.
While a motion to display the Indigenous flags outside municipal headquarters in Kiewa Street later passed with little fuss and has come to fruition, it was not going to be that simple at the war memorial.
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While the monument and its surrounds are maintained by council staff, it is the Albury RSL sub-branch which is its custodian and its president Graham Docksey also happens to be a city councillor.
He felt put-upon by Cr Cohn after having overseen a $1.3 million upgrade of the memorial which saw a plaque acknowledging Indigenous service personnel put in the first of a series of alcoves dedicated to conflicts from the Boer War to Iraq.
It has got Aboriginal, Australian and Torres Strait Islander flags on it and reads: "In honour of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that have served in their country in all wars and in peace."
"She's never acknowledged the Aboriginal plaque we put up there.
"She's never worn a uniform, she would never understand."
Mr Docksey argument against the Indigenous colours flying alongside existing Australian and New Zealand flags centred on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander banners having not existed at the time of World War I which inspired the construction of the monument.
The black, yellow and red Aboriginal flag emerged in Adelaide 50 years ago this month at a land rights rally and the Torres Strait Islander symbol which has a stylised dancer's headdress and five-pointed star appeared in 1992 after a competition.
Both were officially designated as flags of Australia under Commonwealth legislation in 1995 and that status and a strong concern that Indigenous soldiers, sailors and air force members should be saluted through their banners drove Cr Cohn and her allies.
But it was vexation rather than vexillology that came to the fore as the public reacted to the deputy mayor's proposal.
The immediate response saw 70 per cent opposition to the poles with 26 submissions to the council anti and 11 in favour.
By March the issue had reached a flashpoint with the RSL sub-branch having unanimously passed a motion against further flags at the memorial and a process to overturn the funding of the flags set for debate.
"You all may well be inundated with emails from all the Karens and Kens in the community opposing the decision, but you need to ask yourself 'are you aligned with the values of the present or the past?'," Mr Whybrow said.
Albury resident Rod Halsted also addressed the council and encapsulated much of the opposition argument.
"This idea to fly any flag, other than the Australian national flag, ultimately is divisive and most certainly goes against the wishes of the vast majority of Albury residents," Mr Halsted said.
Cr Cameron's rescission motion was lost 5-3 but the conclusion to the debate was prolonged with council opting to take submissions on the $30,000 flag pole expenditure as part of its budget consideration.
That meant D-day would arrive last Monday.
In the interim there were a further 70 submissions with 71 per cent against the poles and an RSL-driven petition which had 167 signatories not wanting Indigenous flags at the memorial.
When combined with the earlier feedback that added up to 91 per cent opposition.
However, council's business and lifestyle manager Ambrose Glass recommended the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags be hoisted but with a rider that the RSL sub-branch decide which banners are flown at their commemorative or ceremonial events at the memorial.
Under the heading 'corporate risk', Mr Glass conceded council could be seen as "failing to listen to the community" by going against the majority feedback but also forecast the council would considered "not being aligned to modern values" if it stopped the flying of the flags.
In bureaucratic fashion he advanced that "the reputational risk may impact future economic and social growth objectives".
It was the ballot box though that drove much of councillor Henk van de Ven's contribution to Monday night's debate as he referenced the looming city election in September.
"I hope that come September 4 that people really remember what people are doing here," Cr van de Ven said.
"Getting 91 per cent of feedback to say we don't want the extra flag poles at Monument Hill and then proceed to ignore those requests from the public and vote and say 'stick it up yours, we're not taking any notice of your submissions, we'll go ahead and put the flag poles up anyway'."
Flag pole backer councillor David Thurley said he was not saying "stick it up yours" and would be fine if voters went "get lost" at the poll.
"I'm not here to try and win votes, I'm here to stick up for principles and things that I believe in," Cr Thurley said.
Cr Docksey attempted to wedge Cr Cohn by proposing the $30,000 be spent on services for counselling, domestic violence and feeding the needy if the flag poles were rejected.
Councillor Murray King pointed to objectors being 0.034 per cent of Albury's population and noted the donation call was a last-minute gesture.
Mayor Kevin Mack took up Mr Whybrow's challenge, concluding his contribution by saying he wanted to be on the "right side of history".
With the flag poles coming, Mr Docksey now is faced with a dilemma.
Does he follow the majority of his sub-branch and not have the flags flying on Anzac Day next year or face condemnation and likely allegations of racism by not having Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags fluttering?
Mr Docksey plans to consult with his RSL membership and be guided by it.
Of course it's not as though there has been no changes with Anzac Day and war memorials.
The national anthem has gone from God Save The King during World War I to Advance Australia Fair and the Australian War Memorial will soon permanently fly the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags on its forecourt.
Underlying the debate is the appearance of the British Union Jack on a quarter of the Australian flag and what and who that represents.
World War I was a time of the British Empire and our adherence to the so-called Mother Country and the White Australia Policy made for a much different mindset.
Their country was unkind to them but things have changed and the next page in the history of Albury's Anzac Day observance offers a fresh start.