SOLDIERS and civilians who have served with the United Nations were commemorated in a special service at the Lismore Cenotaph this morning.

The inaugural service was timed to coincide with United Nations Day, occurring each year on October 24.

This year is also the 65th anniversary of Australian military and civilian involvement with UN operations, which commenced in Indonesia in 1947.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell and a representative from local MP Janelle Saffin's office attended the event, a simple affair consisting of prayers, speeches, and a wreath laying ceremony.

Lismore RSL sub-branch member and veteran of two tours with the UN, Andrew Johnstone, spoke about his experiences with the UN and the often unrecognized work of those who serve under the UN flag.

He served with the UN flag 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.

"I believe the purpose of today is to commemorate Australian service to the United Nations," said Mr Johnstone.

Australian military observers working under the UN banner have been in the Middle East since 1956, a contribution Mr Johnstone described as 'poorly recognised'.

"Not many people know that we have Australians serving in the Middle East," said Mr Johnstone.

He said no Australian killed in UN operations is currently listed on any honour roll or cenotaph.

He lost four UN colleagues in 2005 as a result of an Israeli air strike on a UN compound in southern Lebanon, which destroyed the entire facility and instantly killed the four UN 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.

Mr Bruton was stationed in Namibia for six months in 1989 with the UN, helping set up refugee camps and police monitoring stations during the unstable early post-apartheid years.

Vice President of Lismore RSL Sub Branch Mr John McDonough said he hoped the ceremony would become a traditional event and attract regular crowds.



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