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St James College, Brisbane ANZAC Day Ceremony

“That moral courage is about standing up for what we believe in.”


St James College, Brisbane paused to remember the ANZACs that sacrificed so much for the freedom we have today.

During a ceremony, stories were shared by staff and students that had a strong and deep connection to ANZAC Day.

Principal Ann Rebgetz reacted to those stories being told.

“It is absolutely inspiring to hear those stories and to hear of what has made us as a country and as a nation,” Principal Rebgetz said in the video above.

“What we take from those stories is the essence of courage.”

Principal Rebgetz also talked about her connection with ANZAC Day.

“Courage comes in two forms,” Principal Rebgetz explained.

“Physical courage of which those many people that we spoke about (and) including my two grandfathers in World War I.

“They had great physical courage to go and step into domains that they hadn’t even come across before.

“Imagine climbing those hills in Gallipoli, or going across the Sommes in France and fighting those battles.

“It was physically really, really difficult.

“But in addition to that, they had incredible moral courage.

“That moral courage is about standing up for what we believe in.

“It’s the moral courage that gave them the drive to want to go and participate in a war.

“No one likes war.

“And we don’t want war, we want global cooperation,” Principal Rebgetz said.

St James College, Brisbane ANZAC ceremony transcript:

Isikeli Kubunameca, Assistant Principal Identity and Global Advocacy : Good morning and welcome St James community to our Anzac liturgy that we are delivering online. I hope that this message finds you well.

It’s important under the current pandemic that with self-isolation and social distancing, that it’s still important that we as a community still gather and remember and acknowledge the sacrifice that was made by the men and women in the Anzac.

I’d like to welcome to the podium Florence to do our Acknowledgement to Country.

Florence Seumanutafa, College Captain: Good morning. Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge that today we stand on the land belonging to Jagera and Turrbul people, the traditional custodians of the land of this region.
We pay respects to the elders, past, present and emerging. And thank them for their continuing contribution to the life of this region. Anzac Day is a day of remembrance and recognition. Of giving thanks to all who have sacrificed their wellbeing, their health, and their lives for the freedom of Australia and New Zealand.

And to continue to pay our respects for their sacrifice. We take time to acknowledge their selflessness, their mate ship and their perseverance, and express our utmost respect and gratitude for their service.

Standing before you today as a 17-year-old with her whole life ahead of her, I cannot begin to understand the sacrifice that our fallen soldiers have made for their country. Knowingly running into enemy fire or working in danger zones, knowing that their fate might already be sealed.

This sheer act of selflessness and courage is the Anzac Spirit and is something that we as Australians today should all strive to exhibit.

Isikeli Kubunameca:Thank you Florence. We welcome now to the podium Gabe to share with us his experience and his connection with the Anzac.

Gabe Stapleton, College Vice-Captain: Many of these brave soldiers who defined what it means to have Anzac Spirit were just average people. My great grandfather, Len, who was a lieutenant and engineer who worked in Malaysia during World War II being just one example.

Our nation’s challenges and developed global cooperation, so much needed now in our context of pandemic crisis, is founded on the hundreds of thousands of brave soldiers and stories not too dissimilar from that of my great grandfather’s.

Whilst the men and women may have been stationed in different units, fought in different countries or even different wars, they all still uphold what it means to have Anzac Spirit. Sacrificing everything so that we can have peace and prosperity.

Isikeli Kubunameca: Thank you Gabe. We’d like to welcome to the podium Neo to share with us the global implications.

Neo Utete, College Vice-Captain: Even 105 years on from the Anzacs landing at Gallipoli, there’s still so much we can learn from our brave men and women. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to go to the UN headquarters in New York.

Being able to witness firsthand through historic artefacts the sacrifice many soldiers made makes me realise how relevant the importance of global cooperation and comradeship is generations carrying on.

We as a culturally diverse and united nation are able to overcome so much more if we all embrace the Anzac Spirit. Having courage, persevering through hard times, and above all, being selfless and fostering real courage and community. Lest We Forget.

Isikeli Kubunameca: Thank you Neo. We now welcome to the podium, Mr Mark Holmes to share with us his connections with the Anzac Spirit.

Mark Holmes, Teacher: Good morning. My name is Mark Holmes. I’m a teacher at St James and I have the privilege to share a few stories about Anzac Day and my family. My family have a long history with Anzac Day, going back to the first world war all the way to the shores of Gallipoli.

My great uncle was killed in Shrapnel Gully and he’s buried there. His brother, thankfully, which is my great grandfather, wasn’t and came home.

My grandfather was sent to Borneo and Papua New Guinea in World War II. I was very close to my Pa so I was very privileged as a teenager to listen to many of his stories and I think I was probably the only person in the family that he spoke to about that.

So I have some photos and I’m not sure if they’ll be picked up on camera. But, this is my grandfather in Borneo. He was in the second AIF in transport and you can see he’s there with his best mate Johnny and unfortunately Johnny, his best mate was killed about two days after that photo was taken. So you can see the next photo, my Pa’s on his own next to the truck because his best friend was killed.

We call Anzac Day in my family the one day of the year. It’s a very emotional day in my family just because of our family heritage going all the way back to World War I and World War II.

My reflections are just from the stories I received from my grandfather was, and my mother would say that he was a broken man, a different man when he returned to Australia, and the healing for him was his grandkids.

So was myself, my sister, and my cousins. So I feel like I was part of that healing process for him. Thank you.

Isikeli Kubunameca: Thank you, Mark. Please welcome to the podium Erin Johnson to share her story on the Anzac.

Erin Johnston, Director of Student Wellbeing: Good morning. My name is Erin Johnston and I’m Acting Director of Student Wellbeing here at St James. Today I feel very privileged to stare at my own personal story and my family’s story in regards to the Anzac Spirit.

I was just 15 years old when I saw the prime minister at the time, John Howard, on the news talking about sending soldiers to East Timor. He was crying and I didn’t really understand at that time what it meant because I was a teenager. But just a few days later, I was told that my dad was going to war in East Timor and I was really scared and I didn’t know what it meant.

That event forever changed my family. My dad was gone for probably about a year. It was through grade 10 and halfway through year 11 I didn’t have my dad there with me. And we would have updates here and there, but we really didn’t know what was happening in East Timor for him and my mum certainly wasn’t telling me much.

When my dad came home, at first everything seemed normal, but eventually I realised that things were very different for him and he was no longer the same person. I soon found out that he had got post-traumatic stress disorder.

And because of that he really struggled with day to day tasks and found things really upsetting. His anxiety was through the roof. It’s taken a long time and he still suffers with PTSD every single day.

But, one of the big things that I’ve taken from this is when I went to East Timor for the first time and I saw how fantastic that country was, there’s so much that has happened there now and people are living there peacefully.

And I came home and I told my dad and I told him I was proud of him. He’ll never ever be the same again. But, his actions and the soldiers actions have created a bit of life for the people over there. That’s my story. Lest We Forget.

Isikeli Kubunameca:Thank you all for sharing your personal stories and connection to the Anzac. We now welcome to the podium our principal, Ms Ann Rebgetz, to share her personal reflection and connection to the Anzac Spirit.

Ann Rebgetz, Principal: Good morning everyone. I’m Ann Rebgetz, the Principal of St James College and I welcome you to our Anzac ceremony today. It is with great reflection that we recognise the many stories that we’ve heard this morning. The stories from our staff and from our students.

It is absolutely inspiring to hear those stories and to hear of what has made us as a country and as a nation. What we take from those stories is the essence of courage.

Courage comes in two forms. Physical courage of which those many people that we spoke about that including my two grandfathers in World War I. They had great physical courage to go and step into domains that they hadn’t even come across before. Imagine climbing those hills in Gallipoli or going across the Sommes in France and fighting those battles. It was physically really, really difficult.

But in addition to that, they had incredible moral courage. That moral courage is about standing up for what we believe in. It’s the moral courage that gave them the drive to want to go and participate in a war. No one likes war.

And we don’t want war, we want global cooperation. But moral courage is what we all have to dig deep within ourselves and find it at the times when we especially need it. I say to you as our community that this is a time when we really need moral courage.

It is a time of great testing. It is a time when you as parents and guardians and carers and students and friends and family have to stand by each other and say we have to do things differently. It is a time like in the war when we don’t know when it is going to end.

We don’t know how long we will be learning online or learning differently. But we have faith, just as our ancestors had faith. They had faith in humanity. They had faith in God. They had faith in each other to keep them at the forefront as that moral compass to keep going, to keep that direction.

So it’s that faith and that strength that they had that we need to take and have within ourselves now to use as our moral compass, to pray to our God to say keep us on the right path.

Keep us to what is needed to the care and love of each other because those people were so brave, both physically and morally. And they are the ones we remember today and we take from their inspiration, from their sacrifice to keep us in our journey on the right path.

I wish you the best, and we remember all of those who’ve gone before us and who are now also still involved in various countries at the forefront. And we remember those who are now fighting the global pandemic. Lest We Forget.

Isikeli Kubunameca: Think you Ms Rebgetz. To conclude our Anzac liturgy online, we’d like to welcome to the podium Mr Marty Wiseman to conclude.

Marty Wiseman, Deputy Principal Pastoral: They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them. Lest we forget. Can I ask that you stand in your place at the moment for a minute silence.

We’ll now move down to the indigenous cross and engage in our cross laying ceremony.

Isikeli Kubunameca: Now is a special part in our ceremony where we remember the St James honour students, past students that have laid their lives for our community; Patrick Mellifont, Hugh Flynn, Charles Casey, William Swords, Thomas Costello, James Rossi, Hugh Douglas.

Marty Wiseman: Thank you for tuning in to our Anzac Day ceremony online due to the COVID-19 crisis. So, just wanted to thank everyone who participated in today, particularly our speakers. So Ms Johnston, Mr Holmes for sharing their stories, for our student leaders for also sharing theirs. For Mr K for his organisation. Of course, Ms Rebgetz for her thoughts. Thank you everyone. Stay safe.