Mt Evelyn pauses on Remembrance Day

Bugler Tom Steele and piper Iain Townsley stand with the Mount Evelyn cenotaph on Remembrance Day. Pictures: MIKAYLA VAN LOON.

By Mikayla van Loon

With the flag at half mast, Mount Evelyn’s veterans and local community members gathered at the cenotaph for Remembrance Day.

Poppies donning jacket lapels and red roses in full bloom, RSL vice president Roger Boness opened the service.

“Thank you all for making the effort to be here today. It is magnificent to see so many of our community back together again on such an occasion,” he said.

“At this moment all over the country, in towns, villages and cities people are coming together as Australians to commemorate our heritage and to remember those who have suffered and died for our nation in time of war.”

This year’s Remembrance Day marked 103 years since the end of World War I, a conflict that in only four years killed over nine million people.

“In Australia, one in every five men who enlisted to serve in the war ended up either killed or missing. Seven men from the small village of Mount Evelyn died while on active service in the First World War,” Mr Boness said.

As the honour roll was called, the ages of those young men rang out with profound sorrow for the sacrifice they made when only in their early 20s.

School students from St Mary’s Primary School and Yarra Hills Secondary College, along with local traders and community groups laid wreaths and poppies at the cenotaph in memory of the fallen.

Mr Boness said while Remembrance Day denotes the end of the battle on Western Front and across Europe, it has evolved to much more than that.

“It’s the day that we remember all the veterans from all conflicts,” he said.

“In the early days we used to concentrate on the First World War but it’s more than that, it’s all of the conflicts and this is their special day and so we’re very very pleased to be able to do something once again for the Mount Evelyn community.”

Not only was the service about honouring the fallen but Mount Evelyn RSL also honoured one of its own, by unveiling the Howitzer Gun plaques dedicated to Mr Boness himself.

RSL president Matt Crymble said it was important that Mr Boness was presented with the plaques initially on Vietnam Veterans Day because of his service in that war but it was great to be able to share the reveal with others on 11 November.

“We’re now very happy that we’ve unveiled it on Remembrance Day and for the community and our club to witness it. He deserved an audience and he got that today,” Mr Crymble said.

From a former president to a current president, Mr Crymble said Mr Boness is a mentor to him, not only from an RSL perspective but in all the community work he has done.

“We’re acknowledging his 10 year presidency with our club. He was president of the tennis club and I understand he was part of getting the club rooms up there.

“He’s had committee positions with the football club. He’s always been heavily involved in the community and he’s teaching me that because I was never that sort of person but I’m trying to be. I’m learning the trade and under his guidance hopefully I’ll be half as good as him.”

Mr Boness said it was humbling to learn about the plaques but being as gracious as he is, he said it was also telling the story of the Mount Evelyn people.

“It’s about firstly, myself, but in essence it’s about the whole of the Mount Evelyn community. So that’s how important it is. It’s a huge honor and when I became aware of it, I was pretty well speechless.”