“Anzac Day is such a sad day on our national calendar. It’s a day to honour and respect those who fought and those who didn’t come home,” said Ms Colnan during her address at the Anzac Day Remembrance assembly, held on the first day of term.
The terrible conditions in Gallipoli and along the Western Front are well known. But it’s the truces, the rare moments when there was a breakthrough of peace and friendship between the soldiers on both sides that Ms Colnan told the students about this Anzac Day.
“From 7.30 that morning, no guns were fired, no grenades were thrown, nor bombs. For the first time in weeks, men could hear the lapping of the sea. A soft mist rose from the gullies and settled over the trenches. A light rain began to fall.
The soldiers from each side came out of their trenches and slowly walked towards each other, scarcely believing that this could be possible. They exchanged buttons, coins, chocolates and sweets and began to talk to each other using sign language.
By 4pm the soldiers shook hands, waved goodbye and climbed back into their trenches. In the few moments of silence that followed, there was wonder at what had happened on that day and even joy. There was also sadness at the things they had seen, the once cherished friends they had lost.
At 4.45pm a single shot rang out and the war was on again.”
The assembly — a chance for our students and staff to learn, respect and reflect on this part of our history — was the final of a series of activities undertaken by the IGS community to commemorate the important occasion.
Many IGS families were up early to attend dawn services across Sydney, and a number of the community attended the annual Anzac Day march through the CBD.
On Sunday IGS Student Leaders Sami Lightfoot and Charlotte Waley proudly represented IGS at a commemoration service conducted by the Paddington Woollahra RSL Sub Branch at the Victoria Barracks. The students were accompanied by longtime staff member and Head of Humanities David Miller, who serves as a Director of the Paddington Woollahra RSL.
“It was wonderful to have both Charlotte and Sami there,” said Mr Miller, speaking proudly of Charlotte laying a wreath and Sami reading the Ode at the event.
Colonel Ahmad Mostafa of the Sub-Branch commended Sami and Charlotte for their dignified manner in carrying out their respective roles during the service. It was a solemn occasion that involved a number of schools from the area and marked the beginning of a busy week for Sami and Charlotte who presided over The Anzac Day Assembly at IGS on Wednesday.
At the assembly Ms Colnan reminded students that Anzac Day is about taking time to stop and remember these sad stories of loss, to learn about our history, and to think about individual courage and the heartbreak of war.
However, above all, she encouraged students to use this moment of reflection to think of others, and finally to play a part, no matter how small, to develop a much-needed vision of peace for us all.