Official Launch of the Mackay North State High School Centenary of ANZAC 2016 Commemorative Tour
Principal Mrs Grieger; Mayor Williamson; distinguished guests; inspirational members of the Mackay North State High School family, and especially – young people of the North! Kaye and I are delighted and honoured to join you all on this important day.
I acknowledge, with respect to Elders, the Traditional Custodians of these lands, and in doing so, I note the participation of Indigenous men in our armed forces in World War I – a participation which may not always have been sufficiently acknowledged.
Though this is our first visit to Mackay North State High School, it is not the first time this year we have seen some of you. That was when, as Governor, I took the salute at the Brisbane ANZAC Day march this year, and last, and saw the School’s band go by – more than once!
Indeed, my wife and I have been present at that saluting dais for, at last count, 18 consecutive ANZAC Days, and we have always been singularly impressed by the enthusiastic and accomplished involvement of the Mackay North State High School Band: through your large numbers, and your musicianship, you add a memorable flavour, importantly a regional flavour, to the metropolitan march.
The large annual commitment to travel to Brisbane – for which I thank you most sincerely – clearly shows the high importance to this great school of the ANZAC tradition.
(And, I should add, importance to this inspiring City – evidenced most recently by the opening of the RSL’s new dedicated support service for returned veterans; vitally important, and I applaud those involved.)
The long-standing Lest We Forget History Project is even more impressive testimony to the school’s commitment to this tradition.
The biennial visit to battlefields and war cemeteries overseas is the most prominent feature of that project, and rightly so.
When my wife and I visited the Menin Gate and the war cemeteries in Flanders in October 2014, we were greatly moved to know Mackay North State High School students had only just preceded us – and we saw evidence of that in the wooden crosses you had respectfully placed with gratitude for those lost from this region.
You will rightly be sensing that Kaye and I are feeling a degree of proud kinship with Mackay North State High!
Now I know there is a great deal of hard work that the students involved, and their teachers, do in preparation for these tours.
The practice of each student “adopting” local individuals lost in war brings home powerfully the selfless sacrifice of those who paid the ultimate price fighting for their families and friends, their towns and their country. This will be especially poignant in these centenary years of World War One.
It is inspirational for me as Governor, indeed for all Queenslanders, to witness the deep commitment of this school community to honouring the sacrifice, ideals and values of the ANZACs and their successors.
I thank and congratulate the whole of the Mackay North State School community, and the veterans’ organisations and companies for their generous support of the 2016 tour.
I thank all the teachers involved for the dedication and energy they contribute to the project. I’m sure they will not mind if I single out Mr Goodwin and Mr Shaw.
I thank the students, and their families and friends, all of you who have worked so hard to raise the substantial funds needed for you to participate in the 2016 tour.
It will be my honour, shortly, to present the 2016 commemorative tour jackets, and the Peter Jarrott Memorial Scholarships.
But, for now, it is with great pleasure, and with enormous pride in Mackay North State High and its Lest We Forget project, that I officially launch the Centenary of ANZAC 2016 Commemorative Tour. Thank you.