by Rosemary Phillis
Residents of Riverstone woke to a beautiful, crisp, clear morning on Saturday 9 November 2019. At 10.30am, around 500 people gathered at the Memorial, to witness a rededication ceremony which acknowledged the centenary of the Memorial, and the fighting spirit of generations of the Riverstone Community.
It was a sunny day, but just like 100 years ago, a breeze kept the temperature down for the hour long ceremony, something appreciated by those gathered, after recent hot, windy days.
The Order of Service printed in this Journal provides an outline in simple black and white words. What it cannot capture is the emotion and spirit of the day. Every person who spoke at the ceremony had either served or a connection with men and women from their families who had served. It was the same for people who came to observe. Many were directly connected to the men listed on the Memorial. All came to pay their respects.
Leading up to the service a town crier spoke about the ceremony to come. He too had a family connection to military service.
Young people played an important role in the Cenotaph 100 ceremony. The Riverstone Girl Guides welcomed people and handed out Orders of Service. Three Guides stood patiently near the Memorial holding wreaths.
The part of the ceremony called simply “Names of the Fallen” was extremely emotional and reduced many to tears. As the name of each man listed on the Memorial was read out, a school students came out of the crowd and walked into the railway station, symbolising the path taken by the men as they left for war.
Bugler Phil O’Neal played a beautiful rendition of the Last Post, each note pitch perfect, another emotional moment for those present.
After the service many gathered at the Memorial, perhaps seeing it with fresh eyes. A bronze plaque to record the event will be cast and attached to the sandstone near the Memorial.
Photographer Warren Kirby organised to take a photo of the crowd, placing a camera in a vantage point similar to that where the original unveiling photo was taken 100 years earlier by Ernest Griffin. We hope it will be around in another 100 years for people to study and admire.
Afterwards, people went to the nearby Town Centre car park. There they looked at print outs of some of the Cenotaph 100 Facebook posts, along with old military vehicles and heritage cars, which were part of the “Rev up Rivo” display.
It was a day that those present will not forget. Riverstone at its finest and proudest.