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Byron Shire
July 23, 2024

Remembering those who served, July 11 

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The Byron Bay war memorial has witnessed its fair share of commemorations over the years – from ANZAC Day ceremonies to Vietnam Veterans Day services and many in between.

But this week, the iconic cenotaph on the corner of Marvell and Tennyson Streets will host a Byron Shire first. On Thursday, July 11 from 11am, Byron RSL subbranch, in conjunction with the Veterans Motorcycle Club, will host the inaugural Middle East Veterans Memorial Service, honouring the servicemen and women who served in the wars which took place in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘They don’t have their own day like us Vietnam vets, or like the ANZACs did,’ says Rob Asquith, the Byron subbranch’s welfare officer.

‘This is the start of getting some of those guys together – having a yarn, remembering lost mates and the suffering they all went through.’

While Australia’s 40,000-plus Middle East veterans have not yet been recognised with their own memorial day, a growing number of services have been taking place across the country.

It is hoped that this Thursday’s event in Byron Bay will bring Middle East veterans together from across the Northern Rivers and beyond.

‘There are definitely a few around here but it’s taking some encouragement to get them out of hiding,’ Mr Asquith quips.  

‘I think the reason is probably similar to us who were in Vietnam. I think some of them feel a bit neglected, misunderstood. 

‘But events like this do help to come to terms with the experience.’

Mr Asquith and his fellow subbranch members are also extending an invitation to the wider community to attend the event. 

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