Every year we try and do something with the kids in the lead up to Anzac Day. As an adult I find it hard to comprehend what it would have been like to live through any of the wars, so I can’t imagine how removed it must be from the life our kids are lucky enough to live now. I feel it is important to do something to show our respect for those that fought for our safety and freedom.
Last weekend we visited Poppy Park at Penrith in Sydney’s west. Poppy Park has 102,804 commemorative poppies “planted” to honour Australian soldiers, sailors and airmen who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives for the freedom we all enjoy today. The poppy display is 2000sqm in size and the shape forms one giant poppy. Each poppy has the name of a fallen service man or woman attached to the stem.
Although the battles that have been fought are commemorated each year it was thought that as generations pass the individual service men and women who gave their lives may no longer have anyone to specifically remember them.
So the vision of Remember a Soldier is for each fallen service person to be remembered by one family. The poppies are for sale with the proceeds going to Nepean Legacy. We purchased a poppy which will be sent to us when the display in the park finishes. It will be randomly chosen and come Remembrance Day we will have someone specific to honour.
While buying our poppy we were having a chat to an ex-serviceman who had served in recent conflict. I mentioned to him that AJ had sent a Christmas parcel to a solider overseas a year ago and how she had received a letter in return from the female solider. We discussed how lovely it was to have that connection and how it had opened up AJ’s eyes to what service people sacrifice and the conditions they live in while serving. The Australian Defence Force had a list of suggested items for the parcel including hand lotion and lip balm because of the dry conditions and magazines because everyone is desperate for news from home no matter how old it is. Having this list and making up the parcel gave AJ and I a chance to talk about what it must be like for the soldiers and how sad they must be not to be at home with loved ones at Christmas. The man we met at Poppy Park told AJ he had received a similar parcel from a scout group while he was away from his family at Christmas and explained how much it meant to him that they had enclosed a letter. When he returned to Australia he met with the scout group to thank them personally and chat about some of his experiences.
Although we see a lot on television about the Anzacs and war in general I think that personal interactions with the service men and women makes much more of an impression and gives the kids a connection in a non-confrontational way. I don’t want them exposed to the really distressing, graphic details of war but to understand the human side of the people who serve and sacrifice for us all.
Poppy Park is open every day until 29 April 8am-9pm
Location: Woodriff Street, Penrith (next to Judges Car Park and Penrith Bowling Club)
We parked in the car park but didn’t find any disabled parking. The park is wheelchair accessible and it is easy to get around the Poppy display on the paths provided.
Our poppy arrived and we will be remembering Henry Hodder who served in the First World War and lost his life doing so.
ANZAC MEMORIAL IN HYDE PARK
Another experience we have done with the kids is the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park in the centre of the city.
I would suggest entering this part of Hyde Park via the Park and Elizabeth Street entrance because it is ramped and easy to get to.
Don’t let the staircase at the front of the Anzac Memorial put you off visiting. It is easily accessed via a side door on the Elizabeth Street side of the building. As you enter the Anzac Memorial building from this side there is a lift to your left which takes you to the upper level and an exhibition centre to your right which has displays about many of the wars Australia has been involved in over the years. The staff were keen to engage the kids on the day we visited and were really friendly and helpful.
The ceiling of the Anzac Memorial is covered in 120,000 gold stars in remembrance of the 120,000 men and women from New South Wales who went to war. We enjoyed our visit and if you are in this area it is free to go in so you could take a minute to wander in and take a look.
I would suggest entering this part of Hyde Park via the Park and Elizabeth Street entrance because it has ramp access and easy to get to.
*Make sure you go upstairs and look at the stars on the ceiling. They are beautiful.
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