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The upgraded Bairnsdale cenotaph was today officially opened after undergoing months of restoration works.

Local MP and Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester attended the opening ceremony held at the cenotaph in the main street of Bairnsdale to mark the occasion.

Mr Chester said the century old war memorial in the heart of Bairnsdale had undergone extensive restoration works to preserve it for the future.

“The Bairnsdale cenotaph is and always will be an important and well-respected memorial in our community,” Mr Chester said.

A casket containing parchments listing the names of 900 local men who served and the names of 171 others and a nurse who died during the First World War, was placed inside the monument during its construction.

Mr Chester said during and after the First World War, local monuments and memorials to those who served, and for those who lost their lives, were of enormous importance to communities around Australia.

“Australia has a proud history of remembering those who have served our nation, their families and those who wear the uniform today,” Mr Chester said.

“As we approach Anzac Day, the completion of the works could not have come at a better time.

“The cenotaph has been the site of Anzac Day commemorations and other local commemorative events since its unveiling almost 100 years ago.

“The cenotaph was built to honour those who served during the First World War, but plaques have been added to also honour those who served in subsequent wars and conflicts.”

Mr Chester said the cenotaph would now resume its role as a fitting place to remember and honour locals who service our country and to be a focal point for local ceremonies, especially on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day.

“I congratulate the East Gippsland Shire Council, and the Bairnsdale RSL sub branch who have been key partners in the restoration project to ensure the integrity and preservation of the cenotaph now and into the future.

“The service and sacrifice of our local men and women will not be forgotten.”

Mr Chester also acknowledged current and ex-serving members of the Australian Defence Force and thanked them for their service.

The project is jointly funded by the Federal Government and East Gippsland Shire Council. The Federal Government provided $137,000 through the Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program.

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