Flag effort marks service

April 30, 2021 BY

Meaningful: Forrest Street Primary School captain Mia places a flag at the site of an unmarked grave in Ballarat’s New Cemetery last Wednesday. Photo: CHIPPY RIVERA

SCHOOL students from across the region have taken part in an effort to mark the service of military personnel laid to rest in Ballarat’s cemeteries.

Over two days last week in the lead up to Anzac Day, the students placed flags at the graves of people who had served in Australia’s military forces.

“At Anzac time we like to put a flag on any defence force personnel that we know of in our cemeteries,” said Annie De Jong, CEO of Ballarat Cemeteries.

“We started with World War One, and then we went to World War Two and now were starting to go to other conflicts when people notify us.

“This is our little thank you and honouring of people who have served our country and made us the Australia we are today.”

So far staff at Ballarat Cemeteries have identified 2300 former army, navy and air force service men and women resting in either the old or new sites.

With that many flags to place, workers couldn’t do it alone and that’s why they called on the city’s school students to assist with the job.

“We’re quite a small organisation and because we need to place so many flags, we wouldn’t be able to do it without the use of volunteers,” Ms De Jong said.

“The students are honoured to be able to do it and they want to know about the people in the cemetery.”

The pupils placing the flags came from schools including St Alipius, Forrest Street, MacArthur Street, Canadian Lead, Sebastopol, Mount Clear and Our Lady Help of Christians primary schools.

To make the gesture even more meaningful, where possible Ms De Jong said cemetery staff try and match up former service personnel with their descendants.

“We had a lovely young woman from St Alipius who went and placed a flag on her great-grandfather’s grave,” she said.

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