Opinion – ANZAC Message 2018 for Students – You are Them and They are You

100 years ago today, Australian troops played a major role in defeating the final German offensive of World War One. Against all odds, they achieved their victory by stubborn defence and aggressive counter attacks in the surrounds of a French village called Villers Bretonneux where even to this very day, the local community displays signs revering the Australian soldiers. 



One of the battalions was the 51st; your very own battalion which is still on the order of battle and is located here in Cairns. A member of the 51st Battalion, Lieutenant Sadlier was awarded the Victoria Cross for valour during the battle.

Before Gallipoli and the terrible years of war that followed, our soldiers had once been in schools not as expansive as yours and in a time when they wrote with slates and chalk.  Later, long before our space age, they learnt copy book writing with pen nibs dipped into ink wells.

Throughout our beloved land “Down Under” their footprints were seen and laughter heard in many a schoolyard.

They too questioned right from wrong.

They too tried every trick in the book to avoid or delay homework.

They too had their cowards and bullies lurking in the shadows.

They too were tempted to dare by what is now known as peer pressure.

As you can see, the challenges you confront, like theirs, are more than a few

Believe me, whatever your secret dreams, they too are not new.

When all seems to go wrong, just remember each and every one of those we honour had doubts of success and fear of failure, yet rolled up their sleeves and reached for the stars.

I knew some of the aging soldiers who had served in Gallipoli and subsequent campaigns in the deserts of the Middle East or muddy fields of France and Belgium. My stepfather was one of them. As an infant I watched many of their sons and daughters march through the streets on their way to another World War and then came a third generation who served in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam. Since then many more have followed in bloody conflicts from Somalia to Afghanistan.

From Gallipoli to this very day, within our people has always been a sense of purpose, mateship, mischief, dry wit, humour and love of country. No matter where you were born, clearly the genes of national character are strong and contagious, for they are you and you are them.

Thus today there is a huge gathering of spirits who watch with pride as you young mortals confront life with its many challenges. The personal qualities of life which they demonstrated are precious gifts you can unwrap and use to pursue your tomorrow with much vision and hope.

In time it will be your turn to teach those yet to be born and pass on the same gifts as given to you, such as discipline, respect for each other, love of country, unity, sharing, caring and to keep going forward no matter the challenges being confronted.

You must never ignore such beautiful qualities of life that the ANZACs left as a legacy for you. They are not there to be prostituted but used wisely. Wherever you go and whatever you do, they too can be your strengths.

The following message has been printed for you, our leaders of tomorrow. Read and remember it well and then go forward with pride in who you are and confidence in what you can become.

God bless all of you, our nation, the ANZACs and all who have followed to protect our precious way of life beneath the Southern Cross.

GM April 2018



A Message from the ANZACs for Tomorrow’s Leaders

They watch with love as you, our youth pass by

They sigh with pride as at school, our flag flies high

They nod in understanding when you question right from wrong

They smile at your love of life, and why homework takes so long

They hear laughter in the schoolyard where they once did play

They too heard the bell and like you, a stampede to be on their way

They know too well of your dreams, for theirs were much the same 

They became ANZACs, and for you gave flesh, blood and pain

Their deeds and sacrifices are etched in history for ever and a day

At campfires mid the stars, in a message to you, they would say

“You are us; we are you and Down Under will always be our home

A special rugged land of rich beauty where true blues are grown

There are challenges to face, and many will be as a team together

Flood, drought or whatever; all as one from City to Never- Never 

Respect for each other; always going forward and never say die 

These are just some of the rules that were part of our battle cry”

Such are the wise words of ANZACs learnt from time gone by

Who left our shores to fight in foreign lands and where many now lie

They swore a sacred oath; believed in themselves and their nation.

The qualities they left us are not of war but from God’s creation

To share, care, love, master hope, courage and understanding

Going forward as one with purpose as they did at the historic landing

Read their message well to help arm for life in in your tomorrow

Stand tall; be confident of what you can do; now GO make it so


George Mansford © February 2018