THERE was never a chance that rain would put off the Vietnam Veterans' Day service and ceremony in Lismore on Saturday.
As an opportunity to honour those Australians who served during the Vietnam War and a chance to remember those who did not come home, a simple case of wet weather would not stop the ceremony happening.
So when Saturday's sun rose to grey skies and showers of rain, the usual outdoor ceremony for the Far North Coast NSW Sub-branch of the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia, set to be held in the Lismore CBD, was moved to the Lismore and District Workers Club.
Secretary of the Far North Coast Sub-branch, Sheldon Maher OAM, said the day was a chance to honour those who served in the Vietnam War, which represented one of the longest operational commitments of Australian forces.
This year also marks 41 years since the withdrawal of the last of Australian Support troops from Vietnam and the 50th Anniversary of the introduction of National Service for Vietnam War Service, Mr Maher said.
It's not only a chance to honour the hundreds who died during the war, Mr Maher said, but also a chance to reflect on the large number who have died since from war-related injuries or illnesses. The day was a special one for another reason; Members of the 9th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment were in attendance as they were holding a reunion in Lismore on the weekend.
As the emotional ceremony began, a solid contingent of the Vietnam Veterans from the Far North Coast marched into the auditorium of the Lismore Workers Club, to a standing ovation. The Lismore City Pipe Band backed the ceremony, and local Army, Navy and Air Force cadets honoured the veterans.
Reverend Graeme Davis gave a thought-provoking Call to Commemoration.
"Let us therefore again reflect on the sacrifice and service given during that era … Be it service on the sea, land or in the air, we all had a crucial part to play," he said.
"We know we did our best, and our nation proud, as did our fathers before us."