Veterans' historic honour

PORT Lincoln Vietnam War veterans Gil Green and Les Kropinyeri helped turn the first soil sod at the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial in Adelaide.

The first sod of soil was turned at the memorial, which will be at the Torrens Parade Ground, to honour aboriginal war veterans from South Australia.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Jack Snelling said until recently, the armed forces service of many Aboriginal South Australians has not been recognised.

"It's a great shame that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women served at a time when they did not enjoy full constitutional rights," Mr Snelling said.

"However they did enlist and served with great distinction in every conflict in which Australia has been involved starting from the Boer War."

Mr Snelling said the memorial would be an enduring symbol or respect for those who died in combat.

Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Minister Ian Hunter said the ceremony was another step towards reconciliation.

"As we approach the Anzac Centenary, I'm proud that we are truly acknowledging all of our service men and women and honouring their loyalty to Australia," he said.

"I thank the members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander War Memorial Committee for their passion, and the Fundraising Appeal Committee for their dedication to this important memorial."

A Register of Aboriginal Veterans in South Australia is also being created to identify the number of Aboriginal people who have served, as many were not able to declare their Aboriginality when enlisting.

It is expected the memorial will be dedicated on November 10 this year.

By Kimberlee Meier

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