Bethlehem students: ‘They shaped our nation’s identity’

Bethlehem College Ashfield Year 10 students reflected on the legacy of the soldiers who landed at Anzac Cove while at the  RSL and Schools Remember Anzac Commemoration Service at Sydney’s Hyde Park.

Speaking before the April 23 event, Nichole Tauum, Stephanie Sos, Therese Kanaan and Vicky Maseko were full of praise for the bravery that soldiers, some not much older than themselves, showed during World War I and the conflicts that followed.

Between them they have Lebanese, Syrian, Hungarian, Armenian and Zimbabwean heritage, but still find plenty to identify with the history and actions of the Anzacs.

Nichole, 14, said Australia as a nation was just 13 years old when the first Anzacs went to war.

“Everyone had ancestry from different countries but the fact that they identified as Australians and were
seen by the other nations as Australians showed even then that people of all cultures could be Australian.

“It defined our nation and what we relate to – the main ideals like mateship, the spirit, and bright outlook towards everything is kind of ingrained in us as people who have grown up here.”

Stephanie, 15, said the Anzacs may not have won at Gallipoli but were are a winner in the eyes of Australian because they stood up to represent the nation in World War I, even though the conflict was not theirs.

“What we commemorate on this day is the spirit of the Anzacs,” she said.

“We honour the mateship, the determination, the courage, the persistence of the Anzacs in Gallipoli despite everything that they had to put up with – being brought to the wrong area and having to face the difficulties of it, because at Anzac Cove they were being shot down like fish inside a barrel.”

Therese, 15, said the Anzacs were inspirational. “They were courageous, they took initiative and they showed mateship on the battlefield,” she said. “It really united Australia.”

Vicky, 14, agreed. “It has left a legacy definitely, that Anzac spirit,” she said.

“When I came to Australia I definitely felt welcomed and that I was in a united nation, coming from Africa where everything was really so divided.”

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