By Bev Jordan
Anzac Day Dawn Service
This year’s Castle Hill RSL Sub branch Anzac Day Dawn Service will see four young High School students talk about the Vietnam War to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s participation in the conflict.
More than 50,000 Australians served in Vietnam. Figures from the AWM show that 520 died as a result of war and almost 2,400 were wounded.
Year 11 students nominated by nine High Schools in the Hills were interviewed for the Hills Anzac Ambassadors roles. The four selected by the panel are: Aryan Roy from Oakhill College, Heidi Wilkinson from Castle Hill High, Damon Buchanan from Marian Catholic College and Gemma Oaklands from Northholm Grammar. The program, sponsored by Castle Hill RSL Sub-branch, was started in 2015. Over the past eight years there have been 32 ambassadors.
President of Castle Hill RSL Sub-branch David Hand said it was an amazing program that added young voices to remembrance services.
“The program continues to bring out the best in the students. The sub-Branch members enjoy sharing their stories with the ambassadors and they support the continuation of the program into the future,” he said.
Elizabeth Rodd who was an ANZAC Ambassador in 2019 and is a mentor said: ”To me, the program represents an intergenerational promise of remembrance.
“As an ambassador, you get the opportunity to meet people with such incredible stories from a time of which young people have no concept.
These stories truly stick with you and can be quiet perspective-altering. My absolute favourite part of being a mentor is getting to see the faces of veterans as they tell their stories to the ambassadors. It’s such a simple thing to do – just listen – but so often in these times it is a forgotten skill. For the veterans, as the ambassadors listen and engage with their stories, I see that promise light up their faces: a promise that all they endured is important and will be remembered.”
Retired Colonel Don Tait who served in the 12th Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery in Vietnam during 35 years of Defence Force service said: “ The Ambassador program has been a huge success, with both the students and the public benefiting from it.
“They do themselves, their families, and schools proud at each commemoration service. Australia is in good hands with young people of the calibre of the Ambassadors. I encourage the community of the Hills to come to the ANZAC Dawn Service to listen to the Ambassadors’ presentations.”
This year’s Hills Dawn Service is on Tuesday April 25th at the Centenary of ANZAC Reserve on Wright’s Road (opposite Kellyville Village shopping centre).
People are encouraged to get to the Reserve by 5.45am at the latest. The ceremony starts at 6am. There were an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people at last year’s ceremony, this year a much larger crowd is expected.