Gunnedah RSL Sub-branch’s Peter Kannengiesser will experience his first Anzac Day at the helm, following the retirement of long-term president Peter Clarke.
Mr Clarke retired on March 19 after 11 years of leading the sub-branch. The role of president is not an entirely new experience for Mr Kannengiesser who usually filled in for Mr Clarke when he was unavailable.
The pair met when Mr Kannengiesser joined the sub-branch around 2004, and became “great friends”.
Mr Clarke said he had seen many changes but the highlights were the sub-branch’s involvement in commemorative events such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.
“It’s a part of the ethos of the RSL to support the returned and current service men and women and keep alive the memory of the sacrifice that's been made on our behalf,” Mr Clarke said.
Mr Kannengiesser said Anzac Day in particular had become more prominent in the nation’s psyche through social media and multimedia, and the number of Australians travelling to the sites of conflict and commemoration such as Gallipoli.
“It’s a page in the history of Australia and I think what they bring back is really bringing it to the fore,” he said.
Mr Clarke and Mr Kannengiesser said it was the sub-branch’s role to look after Gunnedah shire’s memorials and those who had served.
“The sub-branch is here. We are here for the people who are entitled to be looked after,” Mr Kannegiesser said.
Mr Clarke said the number of members in the sub-branch had dropped significantly and they would like to see numbers flourish again.
“There are a lot of ex-service men and women who are not part of the sub-branch who are entitled to be part of the sub-branch and those are the ones we need to encourage to join or re-join,” Mr Kannegiesser said.
“I think anyone who wore a uniform should be allowed to join.”
Mr Clarke said he was glad Mr Kannengiesser was now leading in his place.
“He’s been a tower of strength to me,” Mr Clarke said.
“I feel that the sub-branch is left in good hands.”