Inspired by our leaders, youngsters stand guard

Young soldiers have taken part in war since time immemorial and their modern counterparts are still campaigning on the battlefields and in peaceful surroundings at home.

Conscription saw columns of 18-year-olds march to the Vietnam paddy fields in the South-East Asian conflict of the 1960s and 1970s.

Today, young men still sign up for the military forces and serve on the front lines in Afghanistan.

They are not forgotten by their peers – about 30 people aged between 10 and 21 years will guard the Whyalla war memorial in a vigil on the night before the Dawn Service on Anzac Day.

They are from youth groups including the St John Cadets, 2nd and 4th Whyalla Scout Groups, Venturer Scouts, Girl Guides, Naval Cadets and Cowell Country Fire Service Cadets.

Assistant district scout commissioner Heather Snowden said the young people would make new friends and learn about the Anzac heritage.

The vigil was introduced five years ago after a similar project began in Adelaide to protect the city’s war memorial which had been desecrated before ex-servicemen arrived at dawn on Anzac Day about 2000.

“It is the same thing that troops would do when they secure a site in war or during a peace-keeping mission,” Heather said.

The young people divide into groups which in turn guard the memorial for about 10 minutes each in rotation.

Near the war memorial in Essington Lewis Avenue there is a silent tribute to the fallen in the form of about 30 small poles with plaques remembering fallen personnel from the two World Wars and the Vietnam War.

Returned Services League sub-branch president Kevin Higgins said the vigil and the Essington Lewis Avenue tribute were important aspects of Anzac Day.

                                                        - Greg Mayfield