This Friday we will gather as a Marcellin community to recognise and pay our respects to all the men and women who have served our Nation at our annual ANZAC Day Ceremony.  This is a significant event on our College calendar and in 2021 we will focus on the 41 service men who have lost their lives in the war in Afghanistan.

I share with you the open words to this service written and spoken by our College Captain, Joel Dimattina.

Good morning to Mr Di Cesare, Br Harry Prout, Mr Wallbridge, staff, students and special guests. I’d like to wish you a warm welcome to the Annual ANZAC Day ceremony. Before we commence this morning, on behalf of Marcellin College, we wish to pay respect to the traditional custodians of the land of which this school stands, the Wurundjeri-Bulak clan of the Woiwurrung people in the Kulin Nation. We pay our respect to their Elders, past, present and future, and let us join together in silent prayer for healing of the pains caused by our ancestors.

As the Marcellin College community, may we stand in solidarity with our indigenous brothers and sisters, and work for justice and true reconciliation – Amen.

Over time, the memory of ordinary events may fade, but not great events. In a nation’s history, great events – whether in peace or war – live in our memories regardless of time. They are deemed great not necessarily for what they achieved, nor for whether they were victories or successes. The stories of gallantry, vulnerability and mate-ship which have risen out of our military combine to create this incredible sense of patriotism and ultimate sacrifice to which we owe our lives and our freedom.

ANZAC Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day on which we continue to remember all Australians who served and died in war, both past and present. Today, we as a Marist community, gather to honor the ultimate sacrifice that the brave men and women from Australia and New Zealand have made in all wars.

ANZAC Day holds a special place in my heart. On my mother’s side, my great grandfather, Charles Gordon Stewart served for New Zealand as an ANZAC at Gallipoli. On Dads’ side, my great grandfather Herbert Read also served at Gallipoli, in Australia’s Light Horse Brigade. Each year, I try and take a moment to reflect on how lucky I am to be in the position I am today. Free from war, being able to come to this place each day to receive an education and build life-long memories with mates and teachers.

When World War 1 broke out in 1914, Australia was a new country. Thirteen years since it federated, it was barely a teenager and keen to establish a reputation among the nations of the world. On the morning of April 25th, 1915, Australian and New Zealand troops landed on Gallipoli, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been a bold plan to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate that dragged on for eight months. Though the campaign failed in its military objectives, the actions of our soldiers left a powerful legacy. Whether we realise it or not, this legacy remains instilled in the identity of Australia. We reflect on those qualities of courage, perseverance, vulnerability, commitment and mate-ship here at Marcellin, as these are the qualities that will guide our development into resilient Marist men.

ANZAC Day is therefore a day for all Australians and is a day to commemorate the selflessness and bravery of those that set down their lives for the benefit of others.

On the stage are two pots containing Rosemary. The Rosemary bush is an ancient symbol of remembrance. In ancient times, rosemary was considered to strengthen one’s memory. Greek scholars wore rosemary in their hair to help them to remember their studies. At funerals, mourners would throw sprigs of rosemary in the graves of the dead as a sign of respect. On the shores of Gallipoli, the pungent smell of the rosemary bush was often present and for this reason Rosemary has a special significance on ANZAC Day and traditionally, sprigs of rosemary are worn as an act of commemoration and remembrance.

ANZAC Day serves to remind us that whilst freedom is our right, it comes at a cost. That for our sovereign shores, there has been sacrifice. That in the fight for world peace, there will be war. At the heart of each ANZAC, whether left forever young or home to grow old, lives a burning desire for justice and peace. Their flame of hope for a better world will never be put out, whilst we who grow old continue to live our best lives and fight for peace amongst all of us.

Lest We Forget.