A PROUD 102-year-old World War II veteran will lead Bendigo’s Anzac Day march on Friday.
Arthur Hibbert, who served in the Middle East during the war, will head the cavalcade of cars along High Street during the ceremony.
While the former solider represents one end of the age spectrum, the Bendigo and District RSL is targeting younger veterans for the service.
President Cliff Richards said this year’s Anzac Day would be the first since Australia’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and would act as a “welcoming home”.
“I think the younger veterans deserve the right to be recognised and the right to head the parade,” he said.
“All other veterans are happy to see them take the lead. They deserve to be right up the front, particularly with the withdrawal of the Australian taskforce from Afghanistan at the end of last year.
“Another chapter in the Anzacs has finished.”
Mr Richards said people frequently referenced “the glorious deeds of Gallipoli, which represents the birth of our nation”.
“But in actual fact, Gallipoli and the likes of Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor are very similar,” he said.
“They’re very similar in that soldiers still have the courage, mateship, tenancy and fighting spirit that got the Anzacs through those battles.
“There’s a real comparison that can be made with Gallipoli and the current soldiers standing side by side.”
Mr Richards said the day was not about honouring war.
“No-one likes to honour war,” he said.
“No soldier honours war.
"But what we do honour is the Australian people and Allies who fought and drew upon a common purpose to protect the freedoms we enjoy.
“You’ll get lots of talk about mateship and the different tasks that that soldiers perform with valour and minimum fuss.”
The march starts at 10.30am near Mundy Street and travels along High Street.