Students researched veterans and honoured them in foreign war graves

Senior students research fallen war veterans, visit memorial sites overseas, hold commemorative services and present families with photos of found graves.

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA – Every two years, senior history students from Mackay North State High School, Queensland embarked on a mission called “Lest We Forget”. The students research the lives and service records of fallen Australian veterans, raise funds to visit sites overseas, hold commemorative services, then photograph graves to present to families back in Australia.

Beginning in 1999, the project has undertaken seven separate commemorative tours to the battlefields, memorials and cemeteries of Gallipoli, Northern France, Belgium, the Thai Burma Railway and Singapore. In that time 181 students have been involved and 648 Australian soldiers have been commemorated at overseas graves or memorials. Photographs of these graves and memorials have been presented to relatives at a special ceremony on the students’ return.

This project allows young people to encounter the history of their country in an intensely personal and emotional way.

“The first sight of Alexander’s grave tore me apart. All the work on this man’s life has made me become closer than ever to him. He is no longer a name but a man and a friend and I was proud to be finally standing in front of his headstone.” – Nicole’s Story, Spirit of ANZAC Tour 2006.

The project has been featured twice on ABC’s ‘Australian Story’. The original program, “Carve Their Names with Pride” documented the origins, development and stories from the first tour in 1999. In April 2006, a second episode on Australian Story, “It Was At Gallipoli” explores the impact of the tour on some of the students who were in the original tour and program in 1999. (Ed note: It is absolutely worth the time to watch both the orginal and follow up story, on the Australian Story website. Get a box of tissues.)

Senior History teacher, Mike Goodwin is the co-ordinator of the “Lest We Forget” History Project.

More Information:

Mike Goodwin at Mackay North State High School

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