A call for more to remember

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton RSL president Barry Stinson at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial.
Camera IconGeraldton RSL president Barry Stinson at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial. Credit: Geraldton Guardian

A Geraldton veteran is calling on more young people to honour the sacrifice of Australians at war, as the city prepares for the HMAS Sydney II memorial service tomorrow.

Local Returned and Services League president Barry Stinson was conscripted in 1967 for two years during the Vietnam War, and trained as an infantryman before he was later posted to Malaysia for 16 months of service.

The 72-year-old veteran joined the Geraldton RSL in 2008 after his son, who also served in the army, suggested he meet with local veterans “for a beer”.

After serving multiple committee and executive roles in the RSL, he was elected president in August.

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Mr Stinson said his first 90 days had been challenging but he had been delighted with Geraldton’s Remembrance Day service, particularly the turnout.

However, he touched on the dwindling tradition of stopping for a minute’s silence at 11am.

“It’s disappointing. It’s not like it was years ago,” he reflected.

“It seems to be that when it’s (Remembrance Day) held on a working day, everything just sort of goes on as normal.

“It can seem like people have lost the relevance of it.”

Mr Stinson described the sinking of the HMAS Sydney II as Australia’s worst wartime tragedy and he said remembering the catastrophe was important for the nation and for the surviving families of the lost sailors.

The veteran will be delivering a naval ode for the Unknown Sailor this afternoon before attending the service tomorrow.

“The bigger the crowd the better,” Mr Stinson said.

“I very much hope to see a number of younger people there.

“It’s very important that our younger generation continue to learn and understand the sacrifices of their forebears.”

The 78th HMAS Sydney II Commemoration Service will be held from 5.30pm tomorrow at the HMAS Sydney II Memorial on Gummer Avenue.

The City of Greater Geraldton has advised that parking is limited and residents are encouraged to use the free shuttle bus leaving from the Queen Elizabeth II Seniors and Community Centre from 4.50pm.

The shuttle will return residents to the same location after the service has concluded at 7pm.

Residents will hear a loud bang at 6.55pm on Tuesday when a blank cannon shot is fired.

Simultaneously, there will be a display of flares off the coast.

The commemorative service for the Unknown Sailor will be held today from 2.30pm at the Geraldton War Cemetery in Utakarra.

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