Why does Carey hold annual Anzac Day services? Why place such importance on one event within one war, with that Gallipoli campaign being regarded as a military failure, costing so many lives, causing huge physical and psychological trauma, and occurring 103 years ago in a land thousands of kilometres away?
Anzac Day services are held at Carey not to glorify war, but to remind us of its horrors. They allow us to pay respect to those who served, and especially those who died in war. They allow us to reflect on our fortunate lives, the freedoms we have, the opportunities ahead of us, and the quality of life we lead in Australia. At yesterday’s Senior School Anzac Day service we welcomed members of the Hutton family who are descendants of Carey Old Grammarian Ross Hutton, who died in a plane accident in Kenya whilst training during World War II.
In keeping with this year’s school theme of connectedness, we made connections with the men and women of our school and our country who have served in war. We also made connections to those who died or were severely injured or impacted by war.
I asked the audience in our Memorial Great Hall to imagine that they were sitting in the same hall at the Carey Anzac Day assembly in 1946, the year after World War II ended. The 750 people that fit into the hall represented all 750 Carey Old Grammarians at that time. While the bottom level represented the 508 Carey Old Grammarians who served in World War II.
The good news? Of the 508, 468 returned. The bad news? Forty Carey Old Grammarians died and, of the 468 who returned alive, many had severe physical injuries and deep psychological damage from the trauma of war.
Had you been in the hall in 1946, you almost certainly would have known one of the 40 who had died, as well as the many who had suffered severe physical or emotional damage. Students were asked to think about the teammates they have played sport with at Carey. Or maybe the members of the cast and crew of the recent musical they performed alongside. Or maybe their friends at the table of the Year 12 Formal this Saturday night. Or maybe class mates, House mates, or people from their Year level. Many were just teenagers. And a few were just 16 years old who lied about their age so they could enlist.
The atrocities of World War II were so horrific that at the time it was hoped no further conflicts could follow. Unfortunately since then we have seen wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Rwanda, the Balkans, and Syria.
Together we pray for, hope for, and work towards finding peaceful resolutions where there is conflict.