Hundreds of veterans, family members and supporters of the Memorial Walkway attended the Kokoda Day Flag Raising ceremony on Saturday 3 November, to hear an inspiring address from Brigadier Susan Coyle CSC DSM, Commander of the Army’s 6th Combat Support Brigade.
Brigadier Coyle noted that her late mother had trained as a nurse at Concord Repatriation Hospital in the 1950s and had shared many memories she had of the veterans she cared for.
“This amazing Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway is a living memorial,” she said, “ensuring that we never lose sight of our past, never forget, and enables a place that allows people to come here to honour all Australians who fought in WWII. In particular today, it is important that we pause and remember the sacrifices made by those who fought for the freedoms that we can take for granted today. The sacrifices that they made during key battles in New Guinea along the Kokoda Track are etched forever in the fabric of our nation’s history, and indelibly in the hearts of all Australians.”
Brigadier Coyle recalled a time earlier in her career, as an Aide-de-Camp at Sydney’s Victoria Barracks in 1999, when veterans from the Sanananda campaign had been assembled.
“Several of them were going back to now Papua New Guinea to re-trace their steps – proudly knowing that their efforts contributed to ensuring that the Japanese war machine never reached Port Moresby, and ultimately Australia. I knew then on that day, listening to those veterans that I wanted to remain serving in the Australian Army for as long as I could.
“I had never felt so much pride or honour to be wearing the same uniform, to wear this distinctive Australian slouch hat. Even today, if I needed any reminder of why I am still serving 30 years later, I just need to look around here. To see the pride in you and your families’ faces, to look into the eyes of those that have served, to see the pain of the loss of mates, and be reminded of why such memorials such as the Kokoda Memorial Walkway must remain, and why these dedications will always continue.”
Younger Australians were well represented during the service, with tributes to the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels read by Abbey Krzanic from Rosebank College and Adam Muratore from St Patrick’s College.
Cr Angelo Tsirekas, Mayor of the City of Canada Bay, and Kokoda Track veteran Reg Chard displayed a memorandum of understanding between the local council and Sohe electorate in the Northern Province of PNG, pledging an affiliation to promote goodwill and to develop education, health, sporting and cultural exchanges between the two regions.