Portland essay competition pays tribute to our fallen soldiers

LEST WE FORGET: Winner of the Portland RSL Sub-Branch Essay competition Nikera Hann from Portland Central School. Picture: SUPPLIED
LEST WE FORGET: Winner of the Portland RSL Sub-Branch Essay competition Nikera Hann from Portland Central School. Picture: SUPPLIED

What do Anzac Day and Remembrance Day mean to you?

Students from Portland Central School and St Joseph’s School were asked this very question in the Portland RSL Sub-Branch essay competition.

A total of 35 entries were received and Portland Central School year 5 student Nikera Hann has been announced as the winner.

Sub-branch treasurer and essay coordinator Ian Burrett said all entries were terrific but the essay from 10-year-old Nikera stood out.

Mr Burrett, whose father Lieutenant Colonel Athol Fredrick Burrett DSO MID served in World War One, said tears welled in the eyes of the five judges as they read the entries.

“It would be great if it was possible for every past and present Australian Defence Force service person to have the opportunity to read these entries,” Mr Burrett said.

“Those that died and suffered would know that their efforts were not in vain. It would reinforce their decision to proudly wear a uniform.

“The response from the children also reaffirmed to Sub-Branch members why we exist and makes us more determined to conduct commemorative services for as long as we can.”

A total of nine prizes will be awarded at Saturday’s Remembrance Day service in Portland. The service will commence at 10.30am at the cenotaph on Wolgan Street.

First, second and third prizes will be presented to students of the primary and secondary campuses of Portland Central plus St Joseph’s, along with certificates to all who submitted an entry.

Nikera Hann – What does ANZAC Day mean to me?

ANZAC Day to me means waking up really early before the sun rises, putting on my warmest jumper and scarf ready to go to the Dawn Service. It means lining the streets with all the other community members. People are talking to their friends and family but, at the sound of the very first drum beat silence spreads through the community. We watch the cadets proudly march together around the corner, in perfect rows, the cadet leader hollering out orders. This makes me feel nervous but extremely proud.

ANZAC Day means getting goosebumps all over my body when the bugle begins to play. The hairs on my head stand up, the lump in my throat aches as I try and hold back the tears. The familiar tune of the Last Post brings images of battling soldiers to mind. The tough times they went through, the pain their bodies took on, the sounds of guns and grenades and all the families they left behind play on through my mind. Remembering and appreciating every single person that played a part in the war.

ANZAC Day to me means returning to the local streets at 11:00, dressed proudly in my school uniform. My rising sun badge pinned to my shirt alongside my sprig of rosemary. I stand by my school mates, we stand as one just like the ANZACs. We march with crosses marked with names of fallen soldiers through the streets lined with people. We march in a parade with lots of other local groups of the town. When the march ends, we assemble together and we listen to old war stories passed down from generation to generation. This makes me feel grateful for everything I have and how lucky I and because of the ANZACs. I whisper the powerful words of ‘The Ode’ at the same time as many other community members, then the magical sound of the bugle playing the Last Post brings back all the same feelings as it did just hours before. The normally chaotic and noisy main street is again quiet throughout the moment silence. Everything soon changes when the Australian National Anthem is played. I look around while I’m singing the whole town is singing so loudly and with so much pride. One song joining so many people together.

When the service is over, we go home and Dad makes us hot chocolate and we watch the Gallipoli Service on the tv. I really enjoy watching the service and I hope to be able to go to Gallipoli to watch one someday.

ANZAC Day means to me having a barbeque for tea and settling down to watch the Anzac Day NRL match. The Roosters verses the Dragons. Before the game starts the trophy the teams play for is brought in by an Airforce helicopter and a riderless horse parades the field. The bugle and the Anthem are played once again and I never get sick of hearing it. At this moment I realise I am not the only person feeling all these feelings, paying my respects and being grateful.

ANZAC Day means to me, remembering and honouring everyone that has ever played a role in any war. It means recognising the sacrifices that the men and women made for me to have, what I have today. It means, joining in on ANZAC Day services and experiences so our ANZACs will never be lost in history.

This is what ANZAC Day means to me!