Rememberance Day, 100 year celebration for the end of World War 1.
What an honour to be asked to be part of the Catafalque Party at the Tewantin 2018 Remembrance Day celebrations. Who would have thought this would be one of those experiences in life that makes such an impact and definitely one never forgets.
The significant restoration of the Cenotaph carried out by the sub branch of the Tewantin Noosa RSL Sub Branch prior to the day was ideal and looked amazing. The Cenotaph sits in the middle of the main road in front of the RSL and has a strong presence in Tewantin.
A Catafalque party is a guard, usually of four people, that stands watch over the coffin and catafalque of a distinguished person or over a significant monument.
The catafalque party consists of four members of an armed guard who stand, their heads bowed and their arms (weapon) reversed, facing outward approximately one metre from the coffin or catafalque as a symbolic form of respect for those who have fallen.
Tom Dawson, our troop leader, met with us for three training sessions, one in Brisbane and two on the Sunshine Coast. Well, I have never worked with a rifle before where we had to be so military and precise when forming and performing the Catafalque. Chad and I have been representing the Australian Light Horse together now for five years and the bond is strong. I can only imagine what the bond was like when in the war when the buddy beside you may be the one to save your life, and you his. The friendships would have been so powerful and the respect for each other second to none. This is the first time I have not been on my horse during a ceremony.
Training for the catafalque party was one thing but holding such a heavy rifle mostly in one position for nearly an hour on the day was much harder than I anticipated. It looks so easy to just stand there but when the rifle is reversed it is resting on the foot, this is slow torture. The weight sends the toes to sleep so constantly I was wiggling the toes without bringing attention to this from the crowd. I kept reminding myself that all I had to do was hold a heavy gun. Alot of the men who fought for our country died or lost limbs for us to have the life and freedom that we have today.
Helen presented her horse in the parade and led the catafalque party on the day with Trooper Terry, to the centaphare Her horse presented reversed boots in the stirrups which was a sign that the rider had fallen and lost his life. The image is very surreal and definitely gives me good bumps.
Well, the Tewantin Noosa RSL put on an amazing Remembrance Day, with a host of activities such as releasing of doves, laying reeves, speaches, songs, and of course one minutes slience.
The feeling on being proud to be an Australian and proud of our men, women and horses that fought and fell for our future.
One of my favourite parts of the day was speaking to this wonderful 91 year old gentleman. We laughed, cried and he told me about his life with his parents growing up and the tough times. He had a great appetite, I went twice to fill his plate up, compliments to the RSL for putting on a spread of food for the room full of people.