Visit to the ANZAC Memorial

2018 10 24 6l 4p anzac excursion preview 01Sometimes at Pacific Hills Christian School we are afforded the most amazing educational opportunities. Such an opportunity happened on Wednesday 24 October when 4P and 6L accompanied by Mrs Fletcher, Mrs Petschack and Mr Lees visited the enlarged and renewed ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney,

Three days after the Duke and Duchess of Sussex opened the renewed ANZAC Memorial, Classes 4P and 6L were invited to tour the facility and trial some of the new education programs being offered. In fact, these classes were the first such groups ever to tour the museum and to use the educational facilities. The Memorial museum and classrooms, which are magnificent, do not open to the public until the 11 November 2018. This date is significant as it marks the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, which ended ‘The Great War’. Being offered such an opportunity for our school was indeed a rare honour.

The new ANZAC Memorial completes the original vision for the memorial to soldiers involved in World War 1, which took place between 1914 and 1918. In that conflict over 60 000 Australians gave their lives in the service of their country and over 120 000 New South Welshmen enlisted and served in the Australian Armed Services. The original architectural concept had the symbolism of a Pool of Reflection at one end to enable quiet contemplation and a series of cascades at the other to symbolize the continuation of life. The memorial plan was modified as a result of the shortage of funds caused by the Great Depression and the completion of the memorial was put on hold until only very recently.

The new and enlarged memorial contains a walled section of soil samples from many places in NSW that sent soldiers to the Great War, including Castle Hill and Dural. It also has dirt from Wallendbeen, a tiny village, which is close to my wife’s family heart. Wallendbeen is just ten kilometres north of the Riverina town of Cootamundra. From this little settlement my wife’s grandfather’s nephew, George Morton, walked to Sydney, enlisted and travelled to Gallipoli, where he died three days after landing at Hill 60, near Suvla Bay. In the centre section, are soil samples from the major battles sites Australians have fought in, including Gallipoli, The Somme, Fromelles and Kokoda. Our students found this simple monument profoundly moving.

The students viewed the museum and researched the stories of soldiers. They learned about Captain Clarence Jeffreys, from Wallsend, a Victoria Cross recipient who died during the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium on 12 October 1917, fifteen year old Jack Harris from Dulwich Hill, who enlisted and died at Gallipoli, Tibby Cotter, an Australian test cricketer who died during the Charge of Beersheba and William Irwin DCM, an indigenous Australian from Coonabarabran who enlisted and died for his country at Mont St Quentin in the Somme. Stories are very powerful and through this medium the students appreciated and drank in the Memorial’s values of ‘Courage, Endurance and Sacrifice’. The activities also included stopping at 11:00am for the Last Post, a Minute’s silence and Reveille. Engaging art and craft activities enhanced the learning experiences for the students. To conclude their workshop on ‘Rosemary for Remembrance’, Year Four were presented with a Rosemary plant taken from the shores of Gallipoli. We will be planting this on Friday 9 November as part of our Remembrance Day commemoration.

The ANZAC memorial is a place of quiet and silent contemplation and one which assists us to understand the Australian values of Courage, Endurance and Sacrifice. It is well worth a visit. The students of 4P and 6L were privileged to be permitted to come to the Memorial and they represented their school with great honour and distinction.

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