Memorial to brave soldier unveiled at Currumbin
FOR the first time in Australian history, a Victoria Cross recipient of modern-day warfare has been immortalised in the form of a statue.
Early in November, VIP guests assembled at Currumbin RSL for the unveiling of a seven-foot bronze statue of Corporal Cameron Baird.
Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove said the Australian people and the Australian Defence Force were fortunate to have Cpl Baird as one of our own.
"This statue will honour not only Cameron as Australia's 100th VC recipient, but all the 41 soldiers that were killed in Afghanistan and will stand as a representation of Australia's modern-day warfare," said Cpl Baird's father, Doug.
Other speakers included Rupert McCall, who recited a poem about Cpl Baird.
VC holder Keith Payne proposed a "toast to absent friends" and Lee Kernaghan sang Spirit of Anzac.
The statue was created by Scott Edwards.
"In the initial designs for the monument I originally intended a strong, informal but heroic pose; portraying a man who knows the ground he fights on - a sculpture that conveyed Cameron's tremendous physicality but showed little emotion," he said.
"(Parents) Doug and Kaye Baird suggested we bring out Cameron's personality more, removing the ballistic eyewear which had been proposed, and showing one of Cameron's traits - his perpetual half-grin.
"The sculpt relied heavily on photography from Cameron's family and fellow soldiers."
Cpl Baird served in Afghanistan and on June 22, 2013, in the Uruzgan province, his heroic actions made him the 100th recipient of the Victoria Cross for Australia and left the Bairds without their youngest son.
The award was given posthumously in February 2014 and an article written in a Melbourne paper followed. It included interviews with Andrew Harrison, Cameron's grade six teacher and football coach, and Chris Dyer, Cameron's lifelong friend.
This article reconnected Chris and Andrew who both felt they wanted to do something to honour and remember Cameron. After meeting at a local pub in Melbourne with another long-time friend, Daniel Carroll, the three set out to create "Cam's Cause".
Cam's Cause stands for raising awareness for Australian modern-day warfare and the costs associated, both financial and personal.
It serves to remember all 41 soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan, the hundreds that were permanently injured and the many that struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with more than 200 taking their own lives since returning home.
Currumbin RSL was one of Cpl Baird's favourite drinking holes when home in Australia.