Friday April 21, 2017, 9:00am; 17 students from Yr. 11 and 12 Senior History classes (and one teacher) braved the inclement weather and ventured across to the Colac Cemetery.
An interesting – or morbid – excursion you might think. But no, we were on a mission!
Warren McKean of the Geelong Cemetery Trust had contacted Colac Secondary College to see if we would be interested in assisting cemetery staff in the placement of an Australian flag next to the graves of ex-military personnel. When asked, students willingly volunteered to be involved.
This is a task that the cemetery staff have done over the last two years, since the 2015 centenary of World War 1 as an Anzac Day memorial. I had visited the cemetery on both occasions and was impressed with the effort and effect that so many flags made. It also reflects how many people of our city and area have been willing to stand-to and defend our nation in times of emergency and threat.
We began with a short talk on how cemeteries work, an OH&S briefing and an explanation of the ‘how to’ in our role in the flag process. Then it was down to work.
By 12:30 we had helped place over 900 flags across the cemetery. It wasn’t three straight hours of toil – a lovely morning tea was provided.
In this, the third year it has been done, it is still a magnificent and moving sight.
I am so impressed with the effort and determination our students put into the project. They have given something back to the community of Colac that I don’t think we can easily measure, except perhaps in their own words: ‘that was cool’, ‘did you read that grave stone’, ‘this one served in both wars!’, ‘I didn’t know there would be so many people’.
In life we get to learn so many different types of lessons. Today 17 students experienced something that not many people can, and they were appreciative of the opportunity. Each participant received a windcheater emblazoned with the Anzac Project and Rising Sun logo, as well as that of the Geelong Cemetery Trust to remember their involvement.
I would like to thank Warren and the cemetery staff for giving us the opportunity to be involved. We all worked so well together, determined that every military grave will be remembered and honoured with a flag to show their service.
To the students, I commend you for your work, compassion, interest and dedication to the task.