Lorrae Desmond spent the weekend honouring the Aussie soldiers who went to Vietnam. She was at the wreath laying ceremony in Sydney’s Martin Place on Saturday, Vietnam Veteran’s Day and drove up to the Blue Mountains on Sunday for another commemoration.
Today she is meeting a veteran visiting Sydney from South Australia. He is one of the many former soldiers who have sought her out in the decades since she first performed with the ABC Big Band in Saigon in 1967.
Desmond is Australia’s first female Gold Logie winner – she won for the Lorrae Desmond Show in the 1960s. She has won numerous awards since including a “best supporting” Logie for her beloved character “Shirl” in the long running Seven drama, A Country Practice.
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It seemed like a cool trick. Placing my thumb neatly into the scarred hole on the side of my dad’s waist. My thumb sitting flush to his body. To a five-year-old it seemed like the injury was fashioned that way for a reason.
In fact it was senseless. A war injury that barely told the truth of the “indefinable personality change” noted on my father’s war records, which I’ve only days ago uncovered.
As a teenager in the 1980s there was a succession of years when public debate rang around whether we should even bother having Anzac Day. The expression “glorifies war” was bandied about to an offensive level. For the first time I felt like a stranger in my own country. My opinion about the value and significance of Anzac Day was in the minority among my peers.
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Veterans are once again engaged in battle, but this time they are not fighting on behalf of the Australian Government. They are fighting against it.
Serving and retired military personnel continue to be seriously financially disadvantaged by deliberate Government policy and they demand justice.
Armed with flyers and posters, they are engaging with the general public in Operation AWARE to explain their grievances and increase awareness and support for change in Federal Government attitude, an attitude that callously refuses to acknowledge the Government’s financial obligations to current and former Diggers, their widows and those who are on invalid and disabled pensions.
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Growing up in Sydney with a father who served in the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces (BCOF), Anzac Day was a special day.
We would rise early, catch the bus into the city and wait for my father to march past with his mates.
It was important to him that we understood the significance of Anzac Day so that we could carry on the tradition of remembering those who gave us the freedom we enjoy today.
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Let’s never forget men like Frank McGovern and Gavin Campbell.
We’re losing them so quickly now, these veterans of World War II. Frank and Gavin are both proud Perth men. Not the city – I write here of the light cruiser, HMAS Perth, sunk by the Japanese at the Battle of Sunda Strait in February 1942.
Frank is having his ninetieth birthday party in Sydney this week. Gavin, 88 will be there with Frank’s family and friends to help Frank celebrate this personal landmark.
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