THE state funeral for Rusty Priest; World War II veteran, RSL president and keeper of the Anzac flame, was magnificent. Dignitaries and old soldiers gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral and followed the gun carriage carrying his coffin across a sun-drenched Hyde Park to the Anzac memorial, writes Miranda Devine.
A grand tribute to a humble soldier who did so much to boost Anzac Day and the Kokoda Track.
Priest did not crave the spotlight. So it was fitting that a poem read by former Army Chief Ken Gillespie paid homage to the soldiers whose welfare Priest made his life’s work.
“It is the soldier, not the minister, who has given us freedom of religion.
“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
“It is the Soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
“It is the Soldier, not the campus organiser, who has given us freedom to protest.
“It is the soldier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.
“It is the soldier, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
“It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”