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ACT honours Red Cross Centenary

On our 100th Birthday Red Cross was paid tribute in a moving Last Post ceremony

Wednesday August 13, 2014

Red Cross 100
Red Cross members, volunteers and staff were deeply moved by the Last Post tribute to the Centenary of Australian Red Cross.

On 13 August 2014, the 100th Birthday of Red Cross in Australia, the Australian War Memorial honoured the humanitarian service of Red Cross over 100 years.

At the end of each day, commencing at 4.55 pm, the War Memorial farewells visitors with its moving Last Post Ceremony, beginning with the singing of the Australian National Anthem, followed by a piper playing a lament, and a story about a fallen soldier.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Australian Red Cross, the War Memorial's Last Post Ceremony shared the story of Private Gavin Gordon Bulkeley Gavin 26th Battalion, and his brother James, whose bodies were recovered with the help of the International Red Cross.

Private Gavin and his brother James were killed in the battle of Broodseinde Ridge. Although buried near each other in the battlefield, their graves were lost in the aftermath. Their father never stopped looking for them and with the help of the International Red Cross, the brothers' bodies were found, exhumed and buried close together in Tyne Cot Cemetery.

Red Cross people from the ACT gathered for the Last Post ceremony and reflected not only those whose lives were lost during war, but also on the countless lives saved and improved by the comfort and care they received from many thousands of Red Cross members, volunteers and staff.

"It was a deeply moving way to pay tribute to the work of so many Red Cross volunteers and staff who fundraised, produced goods to send overseas, cared for sick and wounded soldiers and assisted their families, and ran the Missing and Wounded Inquiry Bureau during two World Wars," said Wenda Donaldson, Red Cross ACT Executive Director.

"Our role in the community and our services have changed dramatically over 100 years, but our core mission to respond in times of crisis and help the most vulnerable people in need remains the same today," said Wenda Donaldson.

Ahead of our birthday, the ACT Legislative Assembly became the first Parliament in Australia to move a cross-party motion on 7 August 2014 recognising the Centenary of Australian Red Cross.

The ACT Parliament acknowledged that 100 years of Red Cross in Australia is a significant milestone in the nation's social history, and resolved its continued support for the independent, neutral and impartial humanitarian mission of Red Cross to work with and assist the most vulnerable people in need, both in Australia and internationally.

Representatives from all parties spoke to the motion, paying tribute to the international Red Cross movement as a symbol of the basic humanity we all share, and acknowledging the valuable contribution that the Red Cross and its volunteers make to the Canberra community.

Other highlights of the ACT's Centenary celebrations included the national launch of our Centenary book, The Power of Humanity by Prof. Melanie Oppenheimer, graciously hosted by the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove at a special reception event held at Government House, Canberra.

"One of the positives that came out of WWI is not only the Anzac legend but also Australian Red Cross because it is a voluntary organisation spread right across the country - in rural areas in particular - with a very strong female base," said Melanie Oppenheimer.

Looking ahead, ACT Executive Director Wenda Donaldson is keen to engage with a new generation of Canberrans to support the vital everyday work of Red Cross in the local community.

"There are so many ways to get involved with Red Cross and there's never been a better time," said Wenda Donaldson.

Visit our Centenary website to find out more and read some of our Centenary stories.