How Anzac Day is changing for the better

 

The ranks of our World War II veterans are becoming thinner, yet Queenslanders' enthusiasm for Anzac Day has not diminished, with thousands expected to turn out for Anzac Day commemoration this Sunday.

And the newly installed deputy president of the Queensland RSL Wendy Taylor, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) - the first woman appointed to the position in the organisation's 105-year history - predicts a change in Anzac Day commemorations both this year and in the decades ahead.

Mrs Taylor said a greater emphasis was being placed on the role of women in war, and she warmly welcomed the development.

Since the Boer War, where women who served their country were forced to buy their own uniforms and accept paltry wages compared to the men, women have been sidelined from our military history, Ms Taylor said.

Nurses were often in the direct line of fire in conflict zones in all our wars, including those who served on the hospital ships anchored of Gallipoli.

 

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Wendy Taylor is the first female president of the Queensland RSL. Picture: Russell Shakespeare
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Wendy Taylor is the first female president of the Queensland RSL. Picture: Russell Shakespeare

 

"I think a problem for the RSL is that we have spent too much time talking about the men,'' she says.

"But that is definitely changing, and will continue to change in the decades ahead if we are to remain relevant.''

While estimates of surviving World War I veterans vary, the Australian War Memorial puts the figure at around 3000.

Yet Mrs Taylor, who served nine years in the Army Reserve and 16 years in the regular army including senior nursing and command roles in both the Gulf War and East Timor and who elected into her present position at the end of last year, said there was still a strong community connection to Anzac Day in Queensland.

The Light Up The Dawn concept, which originated last year during the COVID lockdown when thousands of Queenslanders stood in silence on their driveways and front lawns as the sun rose, was still being encouraged for those who cannot make a Dawn Service this year.

But Mrs Taylor said organisers still expected thousands to turn out on Sunday for the traditional Brisbane march centred around Elizabeth and George streets, this year led by the RAAF which is marking its 100th anniversary.

Originally published as How Anzac Day is changing for the better

 



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