Sitting on the grass at Riverside Primary, nearly 700 pupils held up the small wooden crosses they had decorated and written tributes on for Australia’s fallen soldiers.
Each little cross has a personal message from each pupil, from a simple ‘thank you’ to hearfelt comments on the role soldiers have played in keeping Australia safe throughout the years.
The crosses form part of the Australian War Memorial’s Commemorative Crosses project, which sees pupils write messages on crosses that are then sent to be placed on the graves of Australian soldiers across the world.
Grade 2 teacher Amelia Woods said it was important the pupils understood war and its impact, both personal and national, and the level of thought pupils put into their crosses was remarkable.
Dylan McCullagh, grade 5, said completing the project had shown him that Australian soldiers “sacrificed themselves ... so we could live a happy life”.
On Dylan’s cross he wrote “You had such courage and you sacrificed yourself for our country, I am glad to call myself an Aussie”.
Max Hardcastle, grade 6, said he learned that many Australian soldiers travelled the world “just to save the future of our country”.
His cross said “Rest in peace brave men who sacrificed their lives for us”.
And Milly Viney, grade 2, said she learned that some fallen soldiers could not be found; on her cross she wrote “thank you for protecting our country”.
The crosses will be sent to mark the graves of Australian soldiers in Turkey, France, Belgium, Malaysia, Singapore, Greece, South Africa and the Middle East.