Anzac Day

Anzac Day is a day of remembrance for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Australians and New Zealanders remember their dead from both world wars beginning with the Gallipoli campaign of World War I. On Wednesday the 25th of April, one of the Year 10 History classes and most of the pupils of Australian descent in the Senior School went with our own New Zealander, Mrs Economou, as well as Mrs Varey, to the Commonwealth cemetery in Palaio Faliro for the annual Anzac Day ceremony of Greece.

It was a very somber occasion but also a very interesting experience. Many officials and diplomats attended and there was even an army band. The proceedings began with a reading by the New Zealand consul, then a short prayer, followed by a short speech from the Australian ambassador. She reminded us of the events of Gallipoli and the reasons for commemorating Anzac Day. Three contemporary texts were then read out: a letter from a major in the Australian army, read by our own Emmanouil Psaromatis; a quote from a nurse, read by a St. Lawrence student; and a short poem by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, praising the Anzac troops who died on Turkish soil, read by the Turkish ambassador to Greece.

The wreath-laying ceremony then began, with the wreaths being presented by Campion students and some students from a public school in Voula. Officials from many countries, from Malta to France to the USA, as well as representatives of many societies and communities, including our own Mrs Economou, laid wreaths in remembrance. The Last Post was bugled from the large cross at the top of the cemetery and it was followed by one minute's silence, then a reverie. The national anthems of Australia, New Zealand and Greece were played by the army band. A reporter learnt from a member of the group in charge of the upkeep of the cemetery that while all the gravestones are the same size and shape, the design depends on their religion and knowledge of their identity, not only their nationality. The attendees were then invited to the embassy residence for a 'gunfire breakfast' (rum mixed in tea) and other refreshments but the students just had soft drinks. After another small speech by the Australian ambassador, thanking everyone for coming, we returned to the school. Considering all that we learnt, it's doubtful that any of the participants don't feel sobered by what we saw and heard on Wednesday.
Joel Clark

Year 10