Wayne Chapman: Hi, I’m Wayne Chapman, principal at Mt Maria College at Petrie.
Anzac Day holds a very special place in the heart of Australians. We have the oldest known civilization on the planet. But when the events of what’s now known as Anzac Cove took place, we were a newly federated nation, just 15 years old. It was a day when Australia really came of age as a modern nation and a day that’s central to our identity.
In many ways, it defines who we are. Values like integrity, courage, and mateships are central themes in many conversations regarding Anzac Day and values central to our nation. They are values that are fundamental to our community at Mt Maria College at Petrie.
The events during World War I involve young people. Many the age of our school students or just a few years older, finding themselves in horrific conditions, living in harsh and challenging environments with their lives at risk. They did this to protect our safety and security. At Gallipoli, over 87,000 Turkish troops are believed to have been killed. 8,708 Australians and 2,721 New Zealanders died in the conflict. That’s nearly 100,000 young people. That is over 212 Mt Maria College student populations.
The hope is always for peace. I was fortunate enough to visit Anzac Cove in Gallipoli. And last year highly recommended this to our students to do when they can. As an Australian, it’s an excellent and touching experience. When you arrive at Anzac Cove, you are greeted by a large plaque with a quote from Mustafa Ataturk, commander of the Turkish troops, and later, Turkey’s president.
It powerfully states, “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives. You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmet’s to us where they lie side by side in this country of ours. You, the mothers who sent your sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
Today we pay respect to the young men and women who served our country in all conflicts. We pay respect to all current servicemen and women who undertake this courageous work for the security of Australia. We are currently in the middle of an enormous health crisis, one that needs us to make some sacrifices. None of what many of us are going through compares to what the Anzacs and other servicemen and women since, have sacrificed.
This is a time that prompts deep reflection upon how very lucky we are as Australians and how very good our lives are. Normally, most of Mt Maria College staff members and students will participate in the Anzac Day March. The Anzac spirit is alive and thriving in our lovely college. We pay deep respects to all those who have served our country.