St Stephen’s Hospital officially dedicated a new war memorial statue on Wednesday 22 April to honour the centenary of the ANZAC landings on Gallipoli.
The dedication of the statue, a Maryborough-made cast stainless steel sword, took place in a blessing service led by St Stephen’s Chaplain Sandra Keay outside the hospital chapel.
Ms Keay said the symbolism of the memorial stemmed from the practice of using a sword as a mark for fallen soldiers lost on the battlefield.
“The sword is the symbol of the warrior. When placed straight down in the earth, it marks the grave of the slain warrior. When viewed at the grave, the sword represents the Lord’s cross,” said Ms Keay.
The sword is mounted on a rock sourced from Scrub Hill which was presented to the hospital by Butchulla Elders. It represents the sacrifice of the indigenous community in past conflicts.
St Stephen’s Hospital Acting General Manager Rae Priaulx said St Stephen’s was proud to honour 100 years of the ANZAC legacy.
“Our hospital is a place of healing and caring for people, and we hope the memorial will serve as a reminder of the ANZAC values of mateship, courage, and strength,” Ms Priaulx said.
St Stephen’s and the Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch, and in particular the club’s late Secretary, Bill Tyrrell, developed the memorial as a joint project.
Hervey Bay RSL Sub-Branch President John Kelsey said Mr Tyrrell had been delighted to collaborate on the development of the memorial.
“The ANZAC centenary is an historic year not just for war veterans, but for all Australians. It’s a time to contemplate the service and sacrifice of servicemen and women during the World War I, and those who never returned from war to their families or friends,” Mr Kelsey said.
Mr Kelsey delivered the Ode of Remembrance at the dedication of the memorial, before the RSL ANZAC Flame was lit in symbolism of the living spirit of ANZAC. The RSL Sub-Branch provided the flame for the service, which is one of only 24 RSL ANZAC flames throughout Australia.
The RSL Sub-Branch will lead the ANZAC Day dawn service at Freedom Park in Pialba on Saturday 25 April.
Mr Kelsey, a returned army serviceman who served for more than 20 years in Vietnam, Singapore and Irian Jaya (now West Papua), said leading this year’s ANZAC Day event would make him “feel like the proudest man in Hervey Bay”.
“My daughters are coming to the dawn service from Brisbane and Agnes Waters. They will be wearing my father’s and grandfather’s First and Second World War medals. It’s going to be a hugely significant day to honour the legacy of those who have gone before us.”