"IN a little town on Anzac Day as a school you'd line up and you'd see the men with their medals marching down the street and they were heroes, they were the most respected people in town," said Aunty Sue-Anne Russell, administration assistant at Marrangbah Cottage at Purfleet.
"They were like the Phantom, they would never die."
Aunty Sue-Anne Russell was speaking words from the book Ashes of Vietnam: Australian Voices by Stuart Rintoul, words that she found fitting to share at the Marrangbah Cottage Aboriginal Memorial 100th Anniversary Gallipoli service yesterday.
"We will never understand or comprehend what those at war went through. But we can acknowledge them and give them the respect they deserve."
This Anzac Day, Taree RSL Sub-branch has connected with the Biripi community to create their own sign and contingent to march behind this Saturday, April 25.
The Marrangbah Cottage Aboriginal Memorial 100th anniversary Gallipoli service involved a collection of important speakers and youth performances.
The ceremony began with Biripi elder Aunty Wilma Morcome delivered a stirring and strong welcome to country in Katang language. Pastor Russell Saunders went on to deliver a heart-felt prayer.
"If they could only see you all before me, they would see we thank them what they've done for us.
"You've left us with something beautiful," remarked Pastor Russell on the memorial garden before him.
Uncle Raymond Saunders, spoke from his experience in the Royal Australian Air Force.
Uncle Ray, a Biripi man who grew up in Purfleet, joined the air force aged 17-and-a-half and spent two years in Malaysia.
His uncle Harold Maher, also originally from Purfleet, fought in World War I in France and Belgium, but returned home at 22 due to injuries.
"My father always told me to respect your elders," said Uncle Ray. "This community made me proud, this is where my roots started.
"I was willing to die for my country.
"Anzac Day is not a glorification of war. It is for those who are willing to lay down their lives and for those that did."
Uncle Ray concluded by speaking of the hurt felt by the "men, women, brothers, sisters left behind."
Uncle David Russell, who acted as master of ceremonies with sister Sue-Anne, continued Uncle Ray's sentiment "...memories of the war they touch you where it hurts."
Aunty Alice Golding, also originally from Purfleet, travelled from Sydney to take part in the commemoration.
"It dug and sank into my spirit to do something with this special day for the brothers and sisters, who fought for our country, those who passed and those who survived. My father is on the plaque here James Henry Morris."
Aunty Alice shared her memories of her father speaking of the traumas of the war, such as being gassed in a trench by a German soldier and the racist taunts he experienced.
Although in his stories he preferred to focus on the moments of re-birth he experienced after war.
Such as when the light hit his face in Circular Quay on his return to his country, and the feeling of handing out hard-boiled eggs to his mates.
"These eggs represented the same as they do at Easter time - fresh life.
Alice recalled the words he spoke to her when she was around 16 years old.
"You know my daughter, I lost my badges," said James.
"I have nothing to show, but that is not a worry to me."
being stirred up and turned into mud for them to stand in.
When he got out he felt renewed, it was a baptism back into his own land.
Aunty Alice Golding expressed her admiration of the young performers at the commemoration.
Student's from St Joseph's performed two traditional dancers, to the sounds of Adam Russell on the didgeridoo.
Young Keiran Ping, wonderfully sang two songs the 'Dolphin' and 'Kookaburra' song.
The involvement of youth, was a important part of the ceremony and in the words of Mayor Paul Hogan "in continuing these stories with young people - we keep them alive."
Towards the end of the commemoration members of the Taree RSL Sub-branch Dennis Marriott and Noel Campbell laid down a wreath and delivered the ode of remembrance and reveille.
The commemoration finished with three local elders raising the flags, accompanied by the didgeridoo, following by a thoughtfully put together thank-you from manager of Marrangbah Cottage Leah Moroney.