Australia post keeps Pearl Harbor memory alive Down Under

Post AU01 in Sydney, Australia, held its 28th annual Pearl Harbor Day in the city of Bankstown (a suburb of Sydney). Sponsors of this event were Post AU01, the City of Bankstown and the Bankstown sub-branch of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL), Australia’s largest veterans association.

Post Commander David Raymond gave the Pearl Harbor Day address, followed by a wreath-laying at the Bankstown War Memorial. About 200 attended this annual event. Representatives of many veterans organizations from the Sydney area attended, and distinguished guests attended and placed a wreath at the memorial. These were The U.S. Consul General from the Sydney U.S. Consulate; the mayor of Bankstown; American Legion Auxiliary Unit AU01 President Sonja Raymond; the City of Bankstown RSL; the New South Wales State Member of Parliament; the Federal Member of Parliament for Bankstown; the Bankstown Local Area Police Commander; representatives of 6 other Sydney-area RSLs; the Australian Merchant Navy Association; U.S. Army Small Ships (WWII veterans and members of Post AU01); Allied Chinese Ships; and the War Widows Guild of Bankstown. This was followed by an excellent luncheon sponsored by the City of Bankstown.

As a side item, the Bankstown War Memorial has two flagpoles – one for the Australian flag and the other to fly the American flag on Pearl Harbor Day, the only day of the year that particular flagpole is used.

This all started in 1984, when someone wrote a letter to the local paper asking why there was no commemoration of the bombing of Hiroshima in August 1945. Commander Raymond wrote to the paper asking why there was not a Pearl Harbor Day commemoration, as there would not have been a bombing of Hiroshima without the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. One of the city councilors replied that if the post would wish to have a Pearl Harbor Day commemoration, he would assure them that the City of Bankstown would co-sponsor the event. At that time the post had about 15 members who were Pearl Harbor survivors. The event was very well attended and the rest is history. In 1991, the 50th anniversary of the attack, more than 2,000 attended the ceremony which had the chief of the Australian Defense Forces attending, as well as representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Canberra and the U.S. Consul General for Sydney, and a proclamation from the governor of Hawaii recognizing this yearly commemoration ceremony –which we later discovered was the first in the Southern Hemisphere. In 1985 the City of Bankstown gazetted that this would be a permanent annual ceremony on Dec. 7, the day of the attack.