Students from Redlynch State College in Cairns brought a tear to the eyes of veterans and serving members alike with their handwritten Anzac letters of thanks.
Defence School Mentor for the college, Nadine Eddy, said the letters were part of a campaign to connect with veterans and serving Australian Defence Force members who may have felt isolated on Anzac Day.
“Anzac Day this year is like something we’ve never experienced before,” Nadine said, last week.
“For our Veterans, current and ex-serving Defence personnel, what is usually a day where they assemble together in camaraderie, many this year will be facing the day isolated and alone.
“Our College wanted to ensure that these valued members of our community know they are are still in our thoughts, and that we will still commemorate this significant day with them,” she said.
For Recruit Sylvia Watson-Compton from Navy’s Indigenous Development Program, there was as much pleasure in replying to the letters as there was receiving them.
She was among a group of HMAS Cairns personnel who volunteered to be part of a letter-writing troupe.
She said most letters received were handwritten, making the experience much more personal than an email or a tweet.
“I thought it was a great idea for the community to write to us about what Anzac Day means to them and for us to respond was a good opportunity to remain connected to students throughout Cairns,” Recruit Sylvia Watson-Compton said.
Recruit Berngohalla Henaway said the letters lifted her spirit.
“Knowing the students still wanted to celebrate Anzac Day brings me great pleasure and pride to be part of the Royal Australian Navy,” she said
Lieutenant David Arnold said he appreciated the words of gratitude expressed by the students, a timely reminder of what the Anzac spirit is all about.
He was particularly touched by correspondence received from Year 6 student, Jakob.
“Jakob’s letter was very special. It came with a wonderful picture of a person saluting the Australian Flag in a field of poppies and was very much appreciated,” Lieutenant Arnold said.
“The letter gave me a time of reflection on the past, present serving members and also of my own service.”
Asked why he thought it was important to reach out to our veterans and Defence members for Anzac Day, Jakob said it was “To show we still care and are proud of their hard work.”
Navy veteran Ken Traill also received a letter from Jakob and was brought to tears.
The former sailor, who served for 37 years in the Navy, said the letter was the first time a young person had thanked him for his service.
“For kids to be doing this and being taught of the sacrifice that was made, I thought it was just great,” he said.
Nadine said the students were proud of the project and overwhelmed by the letters they received in return.
“By asking our students to write a letter, they were encouraged to think a little deeper and personally connect with these special people,” she said.
“What may be just a small gesture from a student, can have an everlasting impact.”