give new life to an old story
By Megan Cunneen
When the St Francis Xavier students sang Red Gum’s
popular Vietnam War song, ‘I was only 19’, the realities
of war really hit home.
At the recent 54th Newcastle Combined Schools ANZAC
Service, students presented the ANZAC day message with
performance and song to more than 1400 of their fellow
primary and secondary school students.
Charlestown East Public School student Taylor
Hudson-Osborn was impressed with the presentation. “It
was very informative and really interesting,” she said.
This year’s theme was Vietnam: Australia’s longest war
and the presentation gave the student audience an
understanding of Australia's role in the Vietnam War and
focused on the veterans from the Newcastle area.
Mick Henrys served in the Fifth Battalion Royal
Australian Regiment and thoroughly enjoyed the students’
presentation. “I think the real credit goes to the
people who decided a few years ago to hand over the
organisation and structure of this day to the students –
it has changed the whole approach,” he said. “It was
very different to the old story told again and again.”
Mr. Henrys agreed that young people should be well
informed about ANZAC’s history and about Australia’s
colourful history. “I think learning about history is
important – learning history gives you a great approach
to life and this is just a significant part of our
history,” he said.
Newcastle and Hunter Region Vietnam Veterans Inc. also
assisted the production by providing invaluable
information and support to the students.
Event co-coordinator James Mackay said the service was
unique and highly regarded as it brought together each
of the city's three school communities, public, catholic
and private. “The philosophy behind this is that
students are better to explain the ANZAC story to their
peers than just adults. This has proved to be a
successful approach with more than 1450 students
involved in this year's event," he said.