STUDENTS from Inverloch Primary School placed around 80 white crosses on graves at Inverloch Cemetery on Friday, April 21.
The rain did not deter the Grade 6 students who were keen to learn about Australia’s history.
Jan Millington from Inverloch RSL said members spent many hours locating the graves of veterans and ex-service members who have either the Royal Australian Air Force army or navy emblem on their headstones.
“We’ve also had contact from Legacy widows and other people whose headstones don’t have that recognition, but have asked if we can still represent their loved ones with a cross, so we’re doing that as well.”
The day was also about engaging the younger generations with memorial services and Anzac Day.
John Langford, from Inverloch RSL and the local Men’s Shed, said there was a long period where schools weren’t involved, but that’s changed in the past 10 years.
“If we can’t involve them at this age, then this whole thing will die out,” he said.
Ms Millington added kids often don’t realise there are veterans in their town, and that it’s important to pay their respects.
“We see on Anzac Day (on TV) the graves overseas of the soldiers and members who were killed over there. But I thought we should perhaps recognise it in our own little villages as well that there are people in the cemetery that we would love to show our respects to.
“They’re not all veterans, some of them were in the services, it wasn’t always their choice or they may have wanted to go overseas, but it wasn’t their decision to go there.
“But they still had their roles to play here within Australia and they came back and continued on with their families and so on.
“I think for the kids to see that and acknowledge that brings a bit more of a personal touch.”
The initiative was made possible by the Inverloch Cemetery Trust, Inverloch Men’s Shed, Inverloch Primary School, Inverloch RSL and Bunnings in Wonthaggi.
School support strong for Anzac Day
HUNDRED years on from World War I and with most of our WWII veterans now in their 90s, Anzac Day carries special significance at the moment.
And that significance was not lost on our local schools, many of which held Anzac Day observances on Monday, while also laying wreaths at the dawn services this morning.
It’s also a time when WWII veterans are handing over the running of these important memorial services to service men and women from later conflicts, including the Vietnam War and more recent engagements.
Such was the case at the Korumburra Primary School and St Joseph’s Primary on Monday this week when Perry Neil, a Vietnam Veteran from Korumburra, led the memorial service.
Afterwards, school captain at Korumburra Primary, Curtis Gardner, took the opportunity to ask Mr Neil about his war service medals.
According to Mr Neil, while the Battle of Long Tan is the best known of all incidents in the Vietnam War, the battles around the fire support bases (FSBs) of Coral and Balmoral, 40km north-east of Saigon between May 12 and June 6, 1968 were among the most protracted and bloody engagements of the war involving Australians.
It was here that Mr Neil was hit by shrapnel from a rocket and airlifted out with extensive injuries.
“It happened early in the conflict there, so in one sense I was lucky I got out,” Perry told the students.
Anzac Day has its historic perspective being an opportunity to reflect on the great sacrifice and loss in the First World War but it’s also about remembering and honouring the contributions made by all of our service men and women, past and present.
And our local primary schools are honouring that tradition with great reverence, respect and interest.