Sir Peter Cosgrove will visit Broken Hill this week to listen and speak with community members.
Australia’s former Governor-General will arrive to town tomorrow with wife Lynne ahead of his guest appearance at a fundraiser event on Friday.
As the Patron-in- Chief for the Virtual War Memorial Australia (VWMA), he will deliver a keynote speech at the luncheon to share the organisation’s vision and pay homage to the efforts of locals.
Sir Peter is looking forward to reacquainting himself with residents and would like to his influence to encourage people to support the VWMA’s digital resource.
“Broken Hill in its’s own history has made enormous contributions to Australia’s record of military service in the navy, army and airforce over the years,” he said.
“In any event, wherever you are, you can reach into that database and read for yourself.
“Thirty years ago, you might have dreamt of something like this but it wasn’t possible.”
The online memorial has gathered and recorded about 1.6 million names and stories of people who served in the country’s defence force in wars and military operations.
The retired senior army officer believes it is a “place for reflection” and a vital teaching tool a well as a space to acknowledge any future lives that may be lost as a result of potential conflict in society.
“The digital age is a way of perpetuating our knowledge and invoking our emotions,” Sir Peter said.
“VMWA is not there to inspire recruitment but to remind people that generations of Australians decided they had to participate for a reason bigger than their own comfort, safety and wellbeing.
“We are in uncertain times and I think the knowledge that their forbears, who also had a lot to lose, felt there were situations in which they had to act to protect their country.”
Broken Hill resident Stephen Radford OAM has sponsored the VWMA’s fundraising event and played a key role in inviting Sir Peter to the Silver City.
“I am very excited about the event on Friday,” Mr Radford said. “It’s not only a fundraiser for the VMWA, it’s also a session for people to understand what it’s about.
“We need to acknowledge and understand those who paid the ultimate price and for those service men and women who have returned from duty.”
He invited the guest of honour to speak about the organisation’s work after meeting him at similar function in Adelaide last year.
Mr Radford said the upcoming fundraiser will be “special” and is confident it will be well supported by community members.
“It’s inspirational for me and I’m very keen to hear Sir Peter talk on Friday not only about the VWMA but also his life journey,” he said.
Sir Peter strongly believes it is in regional and remote areas of Australia where people can absorb the most information, a mindset he will be in when he connects with locals.
“If you want to hear the beating heart of Australia, leave the cities and go to the bush,” he said.
“I have made that a mantra for the last twenty years and I continue to live that.
“I’ll have a chance to speak to the group as a whole and I hope there’s time for questions…I want people to tell me what’s on their minds.”
For more information or to view the Virtual War Memorial, visit https://vwma.org.au/.