A special space to remember our Diggers

On Friday morning, 10 November, just in time for Remembrance Day, students, teachers and parents of St Joseph’s Primary School, East Maitland, gathered at their newly erected ANZAC Commemorative Garden.

This shrine to our ANZACs’ brave wartime efforts is the result of hard work, persistence and planning by Principal, Mrs Marie Butel-Simoes, and a generous community grant from Veteran Affairs NSW.

On a regular school day, the area is a place where students can play and sit, but on a day such as Remembrance Day, the area becomes a point of focus for students to pay their respects to those who have sacrificed so much that we may be free in this country. The statue and the flag poles were built facing the western side of the space so that audiences may reflect on the idea of the setting sun.

During a respectfully hushed ceremony, Mrs Butel-Simoes reminded the children of the bravery and sacrifice of our soldiers.

“This garden is a reminder of the self-sacrifice of the soldiers and acknowledges the bravery of people who have fought to keep our country free,” said Mrs Butel-Simoes.

The poignancy of the memorial is not lost on the young students of St Joseph’s. Year 6 student Jessica Love’s father is currently serving in the Australian Armed Forces deployed in the United Arab Emirates.

“Kids remember the soldiers who fought for us and made Australia free from war and helps us memorialise them,” said Jessica.

Tristian Connolly, a fellow Year 6 student, also has a parent serving in the Australian Armed Forces. This shrine is a reminder of the sacrifices a military family makes.  “Whenever I walk past this garden, when I look at it, it reminds me of my dad and that he is not just going away because he has to but because he is fighting for our freedom and our country,” said Tristian.​

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