Tradition needs kids
By LUIS FELIU
ANZAC Day is a time for reflection and a chance to catch up with old mates for five former Tweed war servicemen looking forward to the traditional march and reunion tomorrow. But the five Tweed Heads-Coolangatta RSL Sub-branch members ? all grandfathers ? say it is also a time to encourage other generations, especially children, to get involved in the commemoration by either marching in place of their fallen relatives or cheering on the parade. Anzac Day's resurgence owes much to the thousands of young Australians who take part ? in school groups or in place of their relatives ? and many veterans say the parades will die without them as the ranks of old Diggers dwindle and RSL membership drops. John Clarke, a National Service (the Nashos) air-force member from the intake of 1957, said that though it was a solemn occasion, he disagreed with people saying the marches would "turn into a carnival" if children became involved. "We should involve younger people more because the older ones are dying off. I would encourage them to join in because I'd hate to see it fade away," Mr Clarke, 69, said. "Youth should keep it going because of what it means to us, because if it wasn't for the dead Anzacs it wouldn't be Australia as we know it," he said. Les Wilson, 69, an army Nasho in the 1950s, said it was rewarding to see more members of the public and children turning out for Anzac Day marches and services. "It bears well for the future and their involvement should be fostered so it's continued ? it never ceases to amaze me to see the kids and public lending their support ? it's pleasing for all ex-service men and women to see it growing year after year," Mr Wilson said. Dave Jones, 59, a Vietnam veteran and great-grandfather who served in the first tour of the army's fifth battalion in 1966-67, said his Tweed-Coolangatta sub-branch had always promoted involvement by children. "I have no problems with it, in fact the more kids that get to know about it the better," Mr Jones said. Former naval petty officer Kevin Rosen, 69, who served in Vietnam in 1966-67, said even though many schools marched with them, involving more children would help keep the tradition, memory and spirit of Anzac alive. "It's a time for us to catch up and keep in contact with old mates ... but it's time to bring more children into it," Mr Rosen said. World War II veteran Bob Lominga, 79, who served with the AIF in the Pacific between 1943-46, agreed that children would help carry the tradition well into the future.