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Many Veterans and their families value memory. They will often meet throughout the year to reflect on the contribution of a military unit, or to commemorate a specific battle.

These commemorative events/ceremonies help veterans grieve the loss of comrades, and affirm the service and sacrifices they have made in the service of our nation.

It is a great privilege to be invited to participate in these commemorate events/ceremonies.

However, we would suggest that unless the event is being held in your local church, at your initiation, you are a guest of the organisers.

As Chaplains, you have a great opportunity to minister with your local veteran community as a ambassador of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20), but you do not ‘own’ the event/ceremony.

This is a Commemorative Event/Ceremony in the public space.

Nevertheless you must be true to being a Christian minister/pastor/clergy person, and often this is the reason why the organisers have invited you to participate.

Typical features of a Commemorative Event/Ceremony

These ceremonies have some typical features in the order of proceedings.

We’ve provided a template below in helping you develop the appropriate ceremony:

1. Welcome to and Acknowledgement of country – Incorporating welcoming and acknowledgement protocols into official meetings and events recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of land.

2. The Introductory Address – There should be a brief talk about why we are gathering to commemorate and to welcome participants, including any dignitaries present.

3. Singing of the National Anthem [or at the end of the ceremony, before wreath laying if wreath laying is held at the end of the ceremony.]

4. A Testimonial Address –  Usually a service person or veteran will speak about their experiences, and focus on the contribution made at the particular battle, or by the particular military unit. A suitable poem may also be read.

5. Reading – John 15:12-13 – Jesus said, “this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

6. Prayer

O God, our ruler and guide, In whose hands are the destinies of this and every nation,

We give you thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in this land And for those who laid down their lives to defend them:

[Today we particularly remember those from [name of unit being commemorated]
Today we particularly remember those who fought at [name of the battle being commemorated]

I pray that we and all the people of Australia,
Gratefully remembering their courage and their sacrifice,
May have grace to live in a spirit of justice,
Of generosity, and of peace;
Through Jesus Christ,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever. AMEN

Followed by the prayer for the unit, or the Navy, Army or Air Force.

7. Wreath laying  [or can be conducted at the conclusion of the ceremony]

While it is best to maintain silence while the wreath is being laid or to give a brief explanation, you could also play some appropriate music or read out one of the poems suggested previously.

8. ODE

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

9. Playing of the Last Post – The playing of the last post

10. Observance of One Minute’s silence

11. Rouse

We will remember them. Lest we forget.

12. Blessing

Go forth into the world in peace;
Be of good courage;
Hold fast that which is good;
Render to no one evil for evil;
Strengthen the faint hearted; support the weak;
Help the afflicted;
Give honour to all; love and serve the Lord,
Rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit,
And the blessing of God almighty,
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Be among you and remain with you always. Amen

14. Singing of the National Anthem, [if not sung earlier.]

15. Wreath laying, [if not done earlier.]

Considerations for the Event

Does your ‘order of proceedings’ outline the details of your event, the roles of key individuals, and the order of the program?

Does the order of proceedings indicate the arrival and departure arrangements for dignitaries and how the formal introductions will take place?

Distribute the order of proceedings to all those who have a role in the program prior to the event. 

Organisers have a legal responsibility to make sure that people with disabilities are able to attend and take part in your commemoration, just like all other members of the public.

It is against the law to discriminate against people with disabilities in terms of access to public places and when providing goods and services.

This includes:

  • people who have a vision or hearing impairment,
  • people with intellectual and learning disabilities,
  • people with mobility and manual dexterity difficulties.

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Defence Anglicans