Minister for Veterans Affairs Victor Dominello joins Member for Ballina Don Page in meeting students at Emmanuel Anglican College about their ballot to attend the 2015 ANZAC Commemorations in Gallipoli.
Minister for Veterans Affairs Victor Dominello joins Member for Ballina Don Page in meeting students at Emmanuel Anglican College about their ballot to attend the 2015 ANZAC Commemorations in Gallipoli. Marc Stapelberg

Emmanuel students waiting for Gallipoli call-up

WHEN the rising sun is greeted by the bugle call at Gallipoli Cove on April 25, 2015, four Emmanuel Anglican College students will be there to witness the historic event.

Exactly which four students is still undetermined. From the 15 who have applied for the NSW Gallipoli School Tour, only four will be selected based on a written or visual submission relating to the Anzac centenary.

Year 10 student Charlie Riley-Burnett said having a great, great grandfather who served on the Gallipoli battlefield made the centenary a personally significant event.

Charlie's great, great grandfather Jim McConnell, whose letters have appeared in Dorothy Gilding's book Letters from the Front, had four young children and a wife when he took up the call to arms in 1915, age 34.

He was selected as a bomb thrower because of his great strength and posted out in a bomb pit in front of the firing line where he was almost killed twice by friendly fire when his comrades mistook him for a Turk.

For Year 9 student Erin Amy Smekel, the centenary tour is about establishing a connection to the Australian soldiers who served and learning what they endured.

"The history behind (centenary) is really important and I find that a lot of people feel they are segregated from the Anzacs because they don't have a direct relative," she said.

"So it's important for them to learn about how the Anzacs helped define our nation. I would really like to go over to Gallipoli to get that connection and come back and tell everybody about it.

"What the Anzacs went through was unimaginable."

Erin said her ambition to become a defence force pilot and her involvement in the Lismore air force cadets also played a big part in her desire to go to Gallipoli for the centenary.

Veterans Affairs Minister Victor Dominello said the most compelling issue for veterans is making sure the next generation of Australians understand the sacrifices that were made in the First World War.

"We have to make sure during this commemoration period we realise that this is not a time to celebrate, this is a time to reflect, to research and to pay respects for the people who gave their lives in service of this nation," he said.

TOUR

The tour of Turkey will last for approximately seven days, culminating with students attending the Centenary of Anzac Dawn Service at Gallipoli on April 25.

Emmanuel Anglican College was one of 25 schools to be drawn from a ballot of 420 applicants for the NSW Gallipoli School Tour departing for Turkey in mid-April 2015.


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