Remembrance Day’s significance

By Robert Muir

The significance of Australia’s Remembrance Day was so well spoken of by proud Year 10 students of Yarrawonga College P-12, Lauren Heffer and Chloe Forge on Monday.

“Today on this day, the 11th of November we not only stand to remember the thousands of Australian soldiers, but also the sacrifice they made to protect our country and give us the freedom we have today,” Lauren said.

“One-hundred and one years ago today, World War 1 came to an end at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month after four years of fighting in horrific and treacherous conditions along with losing thousands upon thousands of soldiers.

“Nurses were confronted with endless amounts of seriously wounded men who could not all be catered for. There were shortages of beds and equipment to address each of the soldiers’ needs and unfortunately not all of the men could be saved. 

“This year Chloe and I were fortunate enough to be able to walk in the foot-steps of heroes along with 12 other amazing people of the college on the Kokoda trail. Walking the Kokoda track is a physically and emotionally challenging experience, honouring the soldiers at Isurava and Brigade Hill standing upon where many men lost their lives and shed their blood.”  

Chloe said: “This experience has put things into perspective of the conditions and atrocities that these soldiers had to deal with and fought in. We were all so privileged to have such amazing porters who continued to blow us away with the amazing support and care they had for each and everyone one of us.

“Walking the trail today is extremely different to how tough the soldiers had it, we had extreme amounts of food and water and tents to sleep in a night. Whereas, the soldiers were un-equipped and untrained, cautious of every move they made. The soldiers would be scared of the unknown and all the gun shots being fired down to them below. 

“Yet we were happily singing and filled with laughter walking the whole trip. All 14 of us students and teachers who walked the trail had a home to go back to, however these men didn’t even know if they were even going to be around for the next day. 

“Our connections we built with the porters would be similar I imagine to the soldiers and the fuzzy wuzzy angels. You could never doubt the porters to go beyond our needs, with absolutely nothing, it was if they had it all, happiest people to be alive. Nothing will ever compare to what the soldiers experienced, but taking on a challenge such as Kokoda has definitely given us a deeper appreciation for what we have today. Lest we forget.”

Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub-Branch President Ian Summers said the address by Lauren and Chloe was excellent.

“We never expect anything less from the P-12 students,” he told the Yarrawonga Chronicle. “And the two girls walking the Kakoda Track gave them some real insight as to the situation of our soldiers.

“We also thank (campus principal Years 9-12) Jo McCarthy who assists us several times a year with our RSL functions.”

RSL Sub-Branch Secretary Brian Cossar OAM welcomed the crowd to the 2019 Remembrance Day on Monday.

The day’s proceedings included Mr Summers sharing his thoughts on, among other things, the significance of the poppy, and John Duncan leading the singing of the Royal Hymn, the New Zealand National Anthem and Australia’s National Anthem. It also included the Last Post, Minute Silence, Reveille and Flanders Fields’.

Mr Cossar and Mr Summers thanked all for their attendance of such a significant occasion.