A LARGE group of people gathered in Darnum on Sunday morning for the unveiling of the area’s new war memorial.
Above: Gary Blackwood, Irene Broadbent, Russell Broadbent and Debbie Brown with Darnum Primary School students Mia and Ashlee. Photos by William PJ Kulich.
The new memorial is the result of a push by locals involved with the Darnum Progress Association to establish a remembrance point outside the Darnum Memorial Hall. The town’s original memorial is bordered by the freeway and another major road, which created noise and safety problems.
Above: Darnum-Ellinbank CFA members laying a wreath at the end of the unveiling ceremony.
Federal funding for the construction of the new memorial was achieved and construction work began earlier this year with the oversight of the progress association and the Baw Baw Shire Council.
Association president Mark Sage told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen the project would not have happened if the community had not pushed for the project.
“It’s the result of probably 12 plus months of hard work and I’m really just the mouthpiece, it’s the community doing it for themselves largely,” he said.
“[Local] Irene Broadbent here is a stalwart of the community, she’s the glue that stuck all the parts together, so it’s a very pleasing outcome.
“We’re well supporter by various businesses in the community that are always keen to make a contribution, and we’re grateful for that.”
Baw Baw mayor Debbie Brown also talked of the community’s drive for the new memorial’s construction.
“You can see the power of community,” Cr Brown told those who attended the unveiling.
“You wanted this from the first thought to what we’ve got today and it’s absolutely beautiful. This is what communities can do.”
State and federal MPs spoke at the event. Narracan Liberal MP Gary Blackwood acknowledged the community’s sacrifices for war.
“I just can’t imagine what it would’ve been like to have been sitting here in Darnum knowing that your son or daughter is overseas fighting in a war that was somebody else’s in most cases,” Mr Blackwood said.
“We have to remember the sacrifices made by families as well as those who lost their lives of those who gave so much in those very sad years.
“100 years (since World War I) is a long time, but is seems to go very quickly when you think back and see how far we have come in that 100 years as a country and also as a community. The changes that have occurred in Darnum over that time have been enormous. But the important thing is we have been able to make that change in a way that suits us as a community, and I think that’s the legacy we honour today; the opportunity to live as a community in safety, to raise our children.”
McMillan Liberal Russell Broadbent reflected on the role memorials play in communities.
“This morning as I drove up, knowing I might have to say something to you, I couldn’t help but be struck by the challenge this presents to all of us, these memorials and why they’re here – massive disturbance to community to the tune of thousands and thousands of people,” he said.
“We stand here in Darnum as part of the Baw Baw community 100 years [on] knowing that the empty chairs over there and the empty spaces around here would’ve been filled by people we actually knew who had died and whose families have been broken up and destroyed.
“I’ve spoken often in the parliament about the grief that has extended over those 100 years, of three generations, which is still with us today. This unveiling today… reminds every family of what our families went through in the first, second world wars and subsequent wars.”
Students from Darnum Primary School sang the national anthem at the end of the ceremony.
Remembrance Day will be observed at the new memorial with a wreath laying ceremony on Wednesday at 11am.
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