Service and Contribution – ANZAC DAY

NEWS 25 Apr 2021

Service and Contribution My grandad, David Jenkins, is 94 years old – not bad for a hardworking dairy farmer who still hoses down the holding yard each day at 9am and 5pm for my uncle, who now owns the family farm. He was on the front page of Monday’s Anzac Day edition of the Riverine Herald as the returned serviceman laying the wreath for the Unknown Soldier, having served in what the newspaper called the ‘forgotten war’. After the euphoria, and relief first of VE Day and then the surrender of Japan, he joined the Occupation Army in Japan. Based in Hiroshima as a member of the 34th Brigade HQ Signals Unit, one of the key roles for his brigade was the destruction of arms and clearing of massive minefields along the Japanese coast. Despite the war having ended, 100 soldiers in his brigade were killed as a result of explosions and further attacks, or passed away from encephalitis.

Over the Anzac weekend, media outlets reported the fading relevance of past wars to younger Australians to help explain a big fall in the number of people attending Anzac Day dawn services in recent years. This may be the case for the events themselves; however, the high levels of student engagement around the messages of the Anzac story, during Haileybury Rendall School’s Anzac service were certainly striking, perhaps suggesting otherwise. The sense of occasion, the respectful silences, the deep listening to our guest speaker from the RAAF, Wing Commander Jodie Mather, and the many post-assembly curious questions that our students asked, indicated that there is certainly still interest and significance in telling stories from the past. Stories of service to something bigger than the self, and stories of contributions to the greater good of community, continue to hold powerful resonance at any age.

“At Haileybury Rendall School, we will continue to highlight and profile the human qualities of courage, fairness, persistence, integrity, humour, initiative, endurance, determination, ingenuity, respect and selfless spirit.”

Through the assembly and through the activities undertaken in classes, students heard stories of modern contributions by a local infantry regiment NORFORCE, and peacekeeping corps currently serving overseas. Students came to appreciate that the NT is a strategic location for Defence with a significant naval, army and air force presence, and that Defence continues to be a consistent contributor to economic activity, providing stimulus to local businesses and supporting regional employment. At Haileybury Rendall School, we will continue to highlight and profile the human qualities of courage, fairness, persistence, integrity, humour, initiative, endurance, determination, ingenuity, respect and selfless spirit that the Anzac story has come to represent, so that like my grandad and his counterparts throughout Australian history, our students can embody these qualities too.