By Timothy Inifiri Jr.
Australians and New Zealanders as well as other partner countries and Solomon Islanders turned out early this morning in Honiara for a dawn service to mark ANZAC Day.
The ANZAC Day, 25 April, marks the anniversary of the first major military action of Australian and New Zealand forces during World War One. It is also a time for Australians and New Zealanders to remember the fallen and demonstrate solemn respect for those who have served and those who continue to serve.
The ceremony which included the traditional laying of wreaths also saw Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and Governor General Sir David Vunagi among guests of honor together with other dignitaries.
Speaking during the ceremony, Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands His Excellency (HE) Rod Hilton highlighted the significance of the event and also acknowledged the more than 20 Australian and New Zealand Defense Force personnel currently deployed in the country to help support as part of the Solomon Islands International Assistance Force (SIIAF).
“Since November 2021, SIIAF has worked side by side with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF), a partnership founded on our enduring history, shared values and deep friendships as Pacific family”.
“These troops and their police colleagues are here today at the request of the Solomon Islands Government, under their leadership,” he added.
“Together they are here to work for our shared priority, to ensure that the Blue Pacific remains peaceful, prosperous and equipped to respond to the challenges of our time”, said Commissioner Hilton.
The Australian Commissioner also stated that SIIAF has shown that when the Pacific family works together they can respond to the peace and security needs of the pacific when it matters the most.
With the Solomon Islands holding a special place in the ANZAC tradition, Hilton said here in Solomon Islands the memories of World War Two and the legends of some of the heroes still live on.
“All those years ago our nations worked together in defensive common interests with Solomon scouts and Australian coast watchers working hand in hand,” he said.
“Our security was inextricably linked then as it is today and Australia will always be grateful to the Solomon Islands and to the scouts and their courageous service”, he added.
Hilton also acknowledged the service, courage and sacrifice of the members of armed forces of all the other nations present during today’s ceremony.
Meanwhile Solomon Islands, Iron Bottom Sound in particular also holds a special place in the ANZAC tradition as 84 Australians lost their lives after HMAS Canberra was sunk during the Battle of Savo Island in 1942.