War memorial, opened on Sunday, honours 120 years of servicemen and women

Governor Hieu Van Le, federal MP Tony Pasin and Mayor Brenton Lewis have led an opening ceremony at Sturt Reserve.

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Men and women who have served in a dozen conflicts dating back 121 years have been honoured on a new war memorial for Murray Bridge, which officially opened on Sunday.

But one conflict stood out among the others for the guest of honour.

His Excellency Hieu Van Le, Governor of South Australia, was born in South Vietnam in 1954, the year before war broke out there.

He reflected on that childhood in the sunshine beneath Wharf Hill on Sunday morning.

“We experienced first-hand the horrors, brutality and the destruction of war, but at the same time, we also witnessed the gallantry, the courage and the sacrifice of so many brave soldiers to protect our friends, our family, our people and our land,” he said.

“Some of them come far, far from many parts of the world, including Australia.

“We cherish a deep and personal gratitude to Australian veterans of the Vietnam War.”

Commemorating servicemen and women was one of the greatest honours of his role, His Excellency, pictured below, said.

Federal MP Tony Pasin, pictured, reflected on the generations of veterans honoured on the memorial, and the freedom they had won.

“Each and every person that served in each and every one of those theatres of war understood the importance of freedom,” he said.

“That’s why they donned that uniform, that’s why they answered that call of duty.

“If there is a silver lining on this dark COVID cloud, it’s to remind (us) that freedom is not something we should have a blasé attitude towards.

“I’m very pleased that the challenges we've faced in 2020 have forced us all to reflect on how important those freedoms are – just ask a Victorian right now.”

He predicted the memorial would serve as a focus point for the community for hundreds of years to come.

The ceremony had begun with a welcome to country from Clyde Rigney senior, and continued with a speech by Mayor Brenton Lewis, a parade by a catafalque party featuring members of all three branches of the Australian Defence Force, wreath-laying, the Ode of Remembrance and a benediction by Australian Army padre Derek Crozier.

About 150 people attended the opening by invitation.

The event was not advertised more widely to avoid difficulties with COVID regulations.

Afterwards, a small crowd gathered for lunch at Murray Bridge RSL.

There, Mr Pasin presented a medallion minted for the 75th anniversary of World War II to Gordon “Hector” Post, pictured below, a 99-year-old veteran of that conflict.

State MP Adrian Pederick also presented a certificate to the RSL sub-branch celebrating the centenary of the RSL in 2019.

Disclosure: The author was a guest of Murray Bridge RSL at the lunch which followed the ceremony. Photos, video: Peri Strathearn.

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