Students of the Southern Highlands have continued a relatively new tradition for remembrance.
High schools across the Wingecarribee Shire have developed a partnership with Honour Our Fallen in researching passed veterans buried in Highlands cemeteries. Among the schools taking part include Bowral High School, Oxley and Chevalier Colleges, Southern Highlands Christian School and Frensham
Students from Oxley College and Bowral High School also placed Australian flags, supported by Mittagong RSL Club, on the gravesites and memorial plaques to honour the sacrifice of servicemen and women who have died.
The display of pride and respect for Defence Forces is carried out on two commemorative dates annually – Anzac Day and Remembrance Day - throughout Australia.
The idea was born in Bowral when Honour Our Fallen was launched on Remembrance Day, November 11, 2017. It was the brainchild of Highlands returned servicemen Rick McCarthy OAM who said the intention was to work with and inspire young people to “honour the past while displaying respect for present Australian Defence Force members.”
The intitiative has had broad-reaching success with more than 3000 flags placed in 62 cemeteries across six states and territories on Anzac Day 2018.
Mr McCarthy said a further 2000 flags were placed at gravesites and memorials across Australia for the 100th anniversary of Remembrance Day.
He said the Honour Our Fallen initiative had gained traction as people submitted requests for flags to place at gravesites around the country.
“Once I receive such requests I am able to access information regarding specific cemeteries and known war graves,” he said.
This in turn enables Mr McCarthy to appoint facilitators who can then work with schools in different areas of Australia to become involved in the Honour Our Fallen program.
“There are still sites we have not yet connected with, but we encourage families to fill out flag requests so that we can identify more sites,” he said.
Mr McCarthy said he hoped the Honour Our Fallen program would become an annual tradition.
He said NSW and QLD RSL branches had endorsed the concept and were assisting with the move to make it a national program.
The program has also gained the support of Australian War Memorial director Dr Brendan Nelson and former prime minister John Howard.
Meanwhile, Mr McCarthy hopes the intitiative will also eventually embrace tributes to emergency service men and women and first responders such as police, ambulance officers, fire officers and SES volunteers.
To request a flag or to learn more about Honour our Fallen go to www.honourourfallen.com