New war memorial officially opens at Penrith RSL

VETERAN Affairs Minister Warren Snowdon officially opened the Penrith RSL Club’s new War Memorial Display earlier today.
Nanjing Night Net

The club’s president, Neville Barnier, who also heads the Penrith RSL sub-branch, said they chose today because June 6 was a special triple anniversary: of the RSL’s founding in 1916; of World War Two’s D-Day landing in 1944; and of Australians fighting in the Vietnam War battle of Bin Bahn in 1969.

Mr Barnier thanked the minister for attending, noting that he had cancelled a planned trip to Western Australia to be in Penrith.

Mr Snowdon said the display was an important reminder of Australians’ history in armed conflicts.

‘‘Although the RSL has had difficult times over the years, it has an enduring presence in the Australian community,’’ the minister said.

‘‘The fact that we are here and part of it is a testament to its success.’’

The display is divided into sections representing different parts of Australia’s military history, such as World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and peace-keeping missions.

Glass cabinets contain memorabilia such as medals and old photos of soldiers.

One corner contains a wall sculpture of the 1915 Gallipoli campaign and another contains an eternal flame-shaped sculpture, in memory of the fallen.

Mr Barnier thanked the Nepean TAFE students who had designed the War Memorial.

He also said the display was an answer to those who believed that RSL clubs should distance themselves from their heritage and minimise the connection with Australia’s war history.

‘‘RSL clubs [which have done that] have either ceased to exist or a majority of their members have left,’’ Mr Barnier said.

‘‘I believe this memorial will connect this club even more to the Penrith community.’’

Mr Snowdon said the RSL and what it represented was still relevant to Australians, including young people.

‘‘Having a display like this in your local RSL club sends a strong message to the community and to the club,’’ he said.

‘‘You are proud men and women and you ought to be, for your service to this country.’’

The minister also thanked local federal MP for Lindsay, David Bradbury, the duty Liberal Senator, Marise Payne, Penrith state MP Stuart Ayres and Macquarie federal MP Louise Markus, who attended the ceremony.

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