The annual R.S.L. and Schools Remember Anzac Ceremony, hosted by the NSW Premier and Minister of Education and Training together with the State President of the R.S.L, was held in Hyde Park, Sydney on Monday, 9th April 2018. This year is of particular significance as it is, among other events; the centenary of the great battles on the Western Front in France, the collapse of the central powers, the victories of the Australian Light Horse in Palestine and Syria and the armistice in November 1918 in France. The event this year had even more significance for Mercy Catholic College, Chatswood as one of our students, Sarah Brannan was elected to be the Master of Ceremonies, an honour for herself, and the College. Sarah was selected out of a number of schools across the greater Sydney region due to her past successes in public speaking as well of her enthusiasm and passion for Modern History. Sarah is currently completing her studies in Modern History and plans to pursue History Extension in her Higher School Certificate.
The event in Hyde Park was attended by approximately 1500 people including Colonel Michael Miller, the Official Secretary of the Governor of NSW The Honourable Gladys Berejiklian Premier of New South Wales, The Honourable David Elliott, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and The Honourable Rob Stokes, Minister for Education. Sarah took time to reflect on the event stating:
I was so grateful to have been given the opportunity to represent schools in NSW, and take an active role in commemorating the spirit of ANZAC.
It was a particularly important moment for my family and I, as I had the honour of wearing my great Grandfather’s medals. Several of the medals, including one earned during the Battle of the Somme, had been awarded to my great Grandfather for service carried out at the age of sixteen. I felt overwhelming pride being able to pay tribute to the sacrifices made by so many, including my own family. At my age, they had been at the forefront of brutal conflicts, many of which had shaped the identity of our country. All the students present were able to recognise that, though we have never been asked to make the same sacrifice as previous generations, we have inherited their duty to seek peace. By celebrating their courage and perseverance, we acknowledge the importance of the values they fought, and continue to fight for.
Interacting with other school students, it became abundantly clear that all sectors of education in NSW could be united in the pursuit of common outcomes. Emphasis was placed on the need to offer service to others. As we commemorated the service of so many individuals to their country in the pursuit of peace, we were compelled to evaluate how we could contribute to achieving this goal. Our obligation to seek equality and harmony can only be fulfilled in service to the wider community. In acknowledging the sacrifices of Australians in times of conflict, we are urged to reflect on our capacity to advocate for the values upon which are nation has been built. We are called to recognise our commitment to improve the world in whatever way we can.