A small but devoted group of national servicemen, along with their family and friends, gathered in Forster's Memorial Park last Thursday, February 14 for National Servicemen's Day.
Beginning at 11am the commemoration got underway with a military re-enactment of the Raising of the Guard, before Great Lakes National Servicemen's Association sub-branch president, Keith McNeil, addressed the assembly on the importance of the day.
At times serious, at times humorous, Mr McNeil paid tribute to the brave contribution made to this country by the thousands of young men called up for involuntary service in the military between 1951 and 1972, while also remembering local servicemen who were no longer around.
Himself a Nasho who was conscripted in 1956, he said it was important for people to be aware of the wrongs of involuntary conscription.
If people aren't aware of what took place then, it may happen again.Keith McNeil
"I'd like the public to be aware that it should never happen again, and if they've got children who are just about to leave school, then think about how our parents must've felt when we were conscripted," he said.
"If people aren't aware of what took place then, it may happen again. So we're trying to prevent that."
Following Mr McNeil's speech, MidCoast Council mayor, David West, praised the efforts of all national servicemen and acknowledged the difficult road to recognition they've travelled, from the abuse and anti-war sentiments they were subjected to in the Vietnam era to the respect they rightfully receive now.
Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead, then extended his gratitude to all national servicemen before The Last Post was played by bugler Nicholas Parsons and the Australian flag was lowered to half-mast.
A minute's silence followed.
Speaking about the significance of the day afterwards, Mr McNeil said it was worrying to consider that the message the Nashos carry may not be passed along into future generations.
"The national servicemen that I look around and see these days are all in their late 70s and early 80s and we're not going to be here much longer, so hopefully somebody will carry on this tradition."
Cr West believed the importance of their contribution was not lost on young Australians.
"I have confidence that young people in Australia are beginning to recognise the sacrifices that have been made so we can enjoy the freedoms we have," he said.
Regardless of what lays ahead for the Nashos it continues to remain a special day for the members of the Great Lakes National Servicemen's Association sub-branch and all those who gather to commemorate it with them.