Thornton Public School community’s re-enactment of the original Australia Day ceremony 100 years on was of historic significance, principal John Millburn believes.
“We were the only place in the country to recognise the original Australia Day,” Mr Millburn told the Mercury on Sunday.
He paid tribute to organisers, military historian John Gillam and teacher Yvonne Fletcher.
“It was Ms Fletcher’s idea to resurrect the original Australia Day ceremony,” Mr Millburn said.
“It included members of the Indigenous and Turkish communities and featured the Anzac flame, a re-enactment troop and a detachment of Light Horse troopers.”
In the days following the landing on Gallipoli, the people of Maitland began raising money for the wounded, widowed and orphaned and on July 31, 1915, a parade was held to benefit those affected by war.
“I can only imagine the feeling people must have had on such a day 100 years ago,” Mr Millburn said at the re-enactment.
“While I am sure there was a spirit of celebration, there must also have been a feeling of dread and worry as so many local men and women were away from home and family.
“They were facing unknown dangers with some even losing their lives or being terribly injured.
“Many were returned home scarred for life.
“The fact that the whole community came together to raise funds for these returned soldiers shows how much every man and woman and boy and girl wanted to help the war effort and help our returning soldiers.”
It was a good time now for people to appreciate how lucky they were to live in a wonderful country during such a time of peace and prosperity, Mr Millburn said.
The event was recognised by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Anzac Advisory Council granted the use of the Anzac Centenary Logo.