Bundaberg woman Veronica Sussens will proudly march down the CBD to honour her Dad on Sunday as part of the 2023 Legacy Centenary Torch Relay.
Established in 1923 Legacy Australia supports partners and children of veterans who gave their lives or health serving the country.
The Legacy Centenary Torch Relay 2023, presented by Defence Health, is travelling to the region to commemorate 100 years and to highlight what the future holds for the organisation.
Its journey began in Pozières France on 23 April then travelled to Menin Gate, Belgium and London.
Now in Australia the torch will undertake a six-month journey visiting all Legacy Club locations around the country, before culminating in Melbourne.
The Bundaberg relay will begin at the Bundaberg Barrel on Sunday at 10 am and travel 7.7 km to Bundaberg Legacy.
There will be 20 torch bearers in total, all with a personal connection to Legacy Australia including Legacy beneficiaries, Legatees and defence personnel.
Veronica said her history with Legacy Australia began when she was a child, after her father was enlisted.
“My father was a World War II veteran, he passed away when I was 16,” she said.
“He fought against the Japanese in Papua New Guinea and was discharged the first time, due to malaria, before going back again a second time.
“Throughout his deployment and even now, Legacy have helped with our family from general support to schooling fees and much more.
“My mum was a huge advocate for the organisation up until she passed.”
Veronica said Legacy Australia highlighted the impact of war, not just on those who fought, but also their loved ones.
“My father didn't talk about the war very often,” she said.
“I knew he suffered from malaria and what we now know as PTSD.
“He kept most [of] the horrors of war to himself, as I think most of that generation did.
“I remember watching The Sullivans television show with him one day and he said to me, ‘you have no idea how hard it is to watch this'.
“At the time, being younger, I thought little of it but when I look back now it really hits home.”
Veronica said this Sunday's relay would be emotional for her.
“I will be walking from the Post Office in the CBD for about 300 metres and my husband and two children will be with me,” she said.
“I hope I don't cry, it is very emotional.
“I think both my parents would be pretty touched and chuffed that we are getting out there bearing the torch for Legacy to highlight the organisation and what war does to families.
“Nobody wins in war, it impacts families for life and I hope this relay gives Legacy the recognition it deserves.”
Community comes together for Legacy Centenary Torch Relay
Bundaberg Region Mayor and patron of Bundaberg Legacy Jack Dempsey congratulated all involved.
“Locally, this organisation is made up of a fantastic group of dedicated and hard-working residents who are compassionate and caring,” he said.
“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank them on behalf of the entire community for the work they do for the many widows and family members of our ex-service personnel.
“The latest data reveals that 3.6 per cent of Bundaberg Region residents have previously served in defence, compared to 2.7 per cent for Queensland, making this service all the more vital for our region.”
Chairman of Legacy Australia Eric Easterbrook OAM said the relay was a fitting commemoration of a century of service.
“Over the decades, Legacy has had a significant impact on many spouses, partners and children of veterans in the state of Queensland,” he said.
“From Cairns to the Gold Coast and everywhere in between, we hope this relay will raise awareness of the important work Legacy does across the sunshine state in supporting our veterans’ families.”
Legacy Australia has been supporting Veteran’s families since 1923 and was founded on a promise made from one digger to another.
Today, the organisation supports more than 40,000 partners and children of veterans’ who put their health and lives on the line for the county.
During the Centenary tour, the torch will travel 50,000 kilometres, with 100 stops over 75 days, and be carried by 1300 torch bearers, all with a personal connection to Legacy Australia.
To date torch bearers have raised $130,000 for Legacy.
Donations allow Legacy to keep the promise to veterans’ families.
To donate visit https://legacy.com.au/donate