Behind the Anzac spirit

Veronica Hassing and Janet Davey have been selling RSL pins for ANZAC Day.

By Ewen McRae

For some, Anzac Day is that one day a year to recognise the sacrifices of Australians in conflicts around the world.

But for Caroline Springs RSL members Janet Davey and Veronica Hassing, it is part of an ongoing legacy.

The women, both 83, have been selling Anzac pins at Burnside Shopping Centre for years, always greeting shoppers with smiles and friendly faces.

For Ms Hassing, it’s a chance to remember her father, James Fogarty, who fought in France during World War I.

“I felt that I had to do something,” she said. “I think of my dad a lot – and I thought he would like me to do this. He didn’t speak about the war. I think the war made him very quiet, but he was a very loving man.

“It means a lot to me to sell these pins each year and I’m grateful to all the people that went to the wars.”

Ms Davey also has a familial connection to Anzac Day, with her brother, James Leiper, serving in New Guinea in World War II.

“My brother did so much for me, and I just thought this would help me pay back a bit,” Ms Davey said.

“When James came back from the war, I was 10 and we were living in a one-bedroom miners shack with nine children – and he bought a house for my mother in Preston.

“He looked after me like he was my dad from that point on … I don’t know where I would be without him and his service.”

The two ladies team up for Anzac Day and Remembrance Day each year, selling pins and poppies.

“It’s especially good to sell these pins with Veronica,” Ms Davey said. “We have a bit of fun and a laugh … it’s good to get out to do this together. I think the importance of Anzac Day is growing, because if it wasn’t for those men and women going off to fight, where would Australia be?”

For Caroline Springs RSL, the day itself will this year have added significance thanks to the unveiling of its new war memorial at Lake Caroline. Caroline Springs RSL will hold its dawn service at the new lakeside memorial from 6am on Thursday.