Je suis fière de vous
This is primarily addressed to the students on the tour but, indirectly, also to the parents/carers.
We have now completed our WW1 part of the tour and I could not be more proud of the students. They have displayed not only respect for the fallen soldiers, but have also shown a real understanding of the sacrifices our soldiers made.
When I get questions from them, such as: ‘Why so many Sir?’ or ‘Why Mr. Dennis?’ and comments such as ‘they were so young’ you realize that they, like all of us, still really can’t answer those questions.
After a very cold, wet and windy day and leaving the Villers Brettoneux Australian War Memorial, Sienna just made the comment ‘they didn’t have a warm bus to go back to did they?’
they didn’t have a warm bus to go back to did they?
I think this a reflection of their greater understanding and appreciation of the soldiers and the conditions and times they fought in.
The readings of the students have been poignant, moving, heartfelt and sincere, whether they have been written personally or they have used a carefully selected WW1 poem.
From Ebony’s first reading or to those who read at Villers Brettoneux, they have done an outstanding job in commemorating the sacrifice of our ‘Digger’ ancestors.
Darcie and Matt read at Pheasant Wood. We couldn’t get to Matts ancestors grave but he was wounded at Fromelles so his piece was read their. Darcie’s soldier was one of the Lost Diggers of Fromelles.
Tyra completed her reading, of an ancestor, within the intimidating environment of Tyne Cot. One of the few who has a headstone. Sienna delivered a moving eulogy at St Grevilliers cemetery, and Takara read at Denancourt for her soldier.
And today was the big day. Shelby for her ancestor, then Jared for his. It is important to note that his was a direct ancestor and Jared is the first in the family to visit the grave.
Then Greg delivering a very emotional reading for the Hamilton family of Kilmore.
Erin and Peri Clancy both delivered moving readings at Villers Brettoneux Memorial, and both had direct family connections with the soldiers.
Abbey read her personal reading at Villers Brettoneux as did Caitlyn Wilson. Caitlyn said she had been ‘talking’ to her ancestor soldier since she started the research.
Unfortunately we could not get to the grave of Grace’s soldier, and Ella’s is being read on Tuesday.
This is a poor summary of just events. You needed to be there to fully appreciate the time and emotional commitment of your children or wards.
My major hope for the tour is that the students attain a greater understanding of WW1, not just statistically and historically, but more importantly, personally. It is to gain an understanding of concepts such as ‘mateship’, sacrifice and compassion and tolerance.
From the comments made by the students, the tears shed and the questions asked, I hope that aim has been achieved.
As parents/carers, you should be extremely proud of what your child/ward has done over the last few days, as should the school and wider community.
On some occasions it is very difficult to translate feelings into words. I hope I have done this for the families of the tour party.
May I thank you for your support.