Pioneer Park hosted dozens of local Airforce Cadets, Gawler Scouts and students from Xavier College from 6.00 pm to 6.00 am between ANZAC eve and ANZAC morning.
They came to perform the holding ground ceremony, a night-long guard of honour surrounding the Pioneer Park memorial where guards are rotated every ten minutes throughout the night. Prior to dawn, these young guards will step down and the ANZAC Day Dawn Service will proceed at 6:15 am.
This is a relatively new ANZAC Day tradition, originating in Adelaide in 2000 in the aftermath of a graffiti attack on the State War Memorial on ANZAC eve in 1999. In response to this, the RSL (Returned and Services League) asked local youth organisations in South Australia to "Hold Ground" on the North Terrace site for the twelve hours preceding the 6 am Anzac Day dawn service.
In only 17 years, Youth ANZAC Eve Vigils have spread across South Australia to become an important part of ANZAC Remembrance Traditions with 12 youth organisations helping to organise the vigils, and hundreds more supporting and standing vigil.
The Gawler ANZAC Eve Youth Vigil Ceremony is one of thirteen vigils taking a proud place as an honour guard during the night, with hundreds of youth organisations pitching in during the long rain-filled night across the State.
The history behind "Holding Ground" stems from the military use of using reconnaissance patrols to locate and secure key strategic positions in preparation for the arrival of the main army. These reconnaissance patrols would typically need to keep an all-night vigil, keeping alert and watchful to ensure the area of battle was secure against any threat.
Youth Vigils not only 'hold ground' against physical dangers such as the 1999 state memorial graffiti incident, but also serve as a youth-filled desire to commemorate and protect ANZAC traditions and histories.
The Youth in Gawler, and around the State, standing tall and alert as honour guards of the ANZAC Legend have created their own ANZAC traditions and continue to honour and respect Australian service people in past conflicts.
Lest We Forget.