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Australia Day Awards - Community Event of the Year
Celebration of Meeniyan and District RSLs 100 Years of Service and Serving Still
When the Meeniyan and District RSL was nearing 100 years of service to veterans and their families, they were keen to acknowledge the milestone by coordinating a number of celebrations that were inclusive of the local community. The first event was held in January which involved the installation and dedication of a metal sculpture “The Ghost Horses” adjacent to the rail trail. This was to commemorate the role of the horse, and specifically the 8th Light Horse Regiment WWI which included many servicemen from South Gippsland.
The main day of activity was held in conjunction with ANZAC Day 2019 where an estimated 400+ people attended a special - and larger - ANZAC day ceremony to commemorate the end of WWI, especially the 100 years of service by Meeniyan and District RSL to the community. The event included a march, sailors from HMAS Cerberus Catafalque, a guest speaker, the Leongatha Secondary College marching band and a live light horse representation. Schools and local community groups were represented in the march and service. After the “Last Post” there was a perfectly timed fly-over of four planes from the Central Flying School RAAF base in Sale.
After the service, many stayed to attend the morning tea and to enjoy music and memorabilia in the Meeniyan Hall. Photos from the war years were displayed along with a slide show featuring the loved ones of local families who served in many different wars. This was a massive effort to collect and scan and included over 100 photos. The commemorative events were rounded out with the planting of a flowering gum adjacent to the cenotaph by Tarwin Valley Primary School. This replaced the planting of the original avenue of honour planted by pupils in 1919 and is in memory of students that served.
The road was closed to help manage the influx of people. Profit from ANZAC badges were directed back to the RSL for the welfare of veterans and their families.