The service and sacrifice of our military members and their families have come under the spotlight in recent weeks, with two annual events being commemorated in early August. The first of these was a commemorative ceremony at the Australian War Memorial followed by a dinner held at Australian Parliament House to honour women and families united by Defence service.
Katrina Robinson (Year 12) and Cate Harvey (Defence School Mentor) attended, on behalf of CGGS, and were inspired by the many stories of sacrifice and selflessness shown by generations of strong women. Honoured guests included the Governor-General and Mrs Hurley, Ministers for Defence and Veterans Affairs, Dr Brendan Nelson – Director of the Australian War Memorial, Rhondda Vanzella, - Chair, Honouring Women and Families United by Defence Service; Chair and President, War Widows Guild of Australia, NSW, as well as many female veterans - some well into their nineties - all with fascinating stories to share.
It was certainly an inspiring night which highlighted the strength and courage of ordinary women doing extraordinary things. In this respect it was a terrific opportunity for Katrina – as a child from a Defence family - to embrace her own part in the ongoing Defence story.
The second event was the Vietnam Veterans’ Day Service held on Anzac Parade on Sunday, 18 August to commemorate those who served and died during operations in Vietnam. Always commemorated on this day, Vietnam Veterans Day was originally known as Long Tan Day to commemorate the men of D Company, 6RAR who fought an extraordinary battle in 1966 that pitted 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers against over 2000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops near the village of Long Tan. Eighteen Australians lost their lives that day and 24 were wounded, but ultimately the battle was won.
CGGS sent three representatives to help at this year's service, one of whom had a very special connection to the day. Emily Ezaki-Swain’s grandfather actually served in D Company 6RAR in its third tour after Long Tan and helped to erect the memorial cross on the Long Tan battlefield in 1969. Emily (Year 7) proudly commemorated her Grandfather’s service, together with Sarah Bender (Year 11) and Evelyn Edwards (Year 6). While having the opportunity to contribute to this service and mingle with those for whom the day is commemorated, our girls had the honour of meeting both some other very important people!
Thank you to our Defence School Mentor, Cate Harvey for her valuable input to this article – and for her ongoing support of the CGGS Defence community.
Photo above: Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley, Sarah Bender (Year 11), Emily Ezaki-Swain (Year 7), Evelyn Edwards (Year 6) and His Excellency-General the Honourable David Hurley (Retd) AC, DSC– Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia