Recognised at last
AUSTRALIAN soldiers and citizens have served around the world under the banner of United Nations in peacekeeping operations since 1947, with nine Australians making the ultimate sacrifice
Yesterday these efforts were commemorated for the first time at a special ceremony held at the Lismore Cenotaph specifically focused on those Australians who have served under the UN.
The inaugural service was timed to coincide with United Nations Day, occurring each year on October 24, and 2012 is also the 65th anniversary of Australia's involvement with the UN.
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell and a representative from MP Janelle Saffin's office attended the event, a simple affair consisting of prayers, speeches, and a wreath-laying ceremony.
A speech by Lismore RSL sub-branch member and veteran of two tours with the UN, Andrew Johnstone, focused on his UN experiences and the often unrecognised work of those who serve under the UN flag.
He served with the UN twice during an 18-year career with the Australian military, once in 2005-06 in the Middle East as a UN military observer (UNMO), and also in East Timor.
Australian military observers working under the UN banner have been in the Middle East since 1956. .
Mr Johnstone said no Australian killed in UN operations is currently listed on any honour roll or cenotaph.
He lost four (non-Australian) UN colleagues in 2005 after an Israeli air strike on a known UN compound in southern Lebanon destroyed the entire facility and instantly killed the four peacekeepers stationed there.
Mr Johnstone laid the first wreath at the cenotaph alongside fellow former UN serviceman and army veteran Graham Bruton, both wearing their signature blue UN berets.