Last year, Parade College’s Music Captain Simon Rebellato completed his final year of schooling at the Bundoora campus.
At the time of writing, Simon is now in France, having just completed a very personal visit to Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery where the names of Old Paradians John Flynn, John Houlihan and Eric McClelland are recorded, and the Australian National Memorial overlooking Amiens and the Somme Valley.
It is here that more than 2100 World War One servicemen are buried, of whom more than 600 remain unidentified.
Quite rightly sensing that a number of Old Paradians gave their lives in wartime, Simon had the great foresight to photograph these solemn places, laying down his OPs cap to the memory of those like Privates Flynn, Houlihan and McClelland who "gave their tommorrows so that we may have our todays".
Simon also felt compelled to pen the following story;
Upon visiting what is undoubtedly a pilgrimage site for all Australians in the form of Villers-Bretonneux, I never imagined that one would be able to feel so at home in a miniscule French town so far away.
Perhaps it was the Australian flags hoisted at each street corner, the street names such as ‘rue de Melbourne’, the restaurant ‘Le Victoria’ or the images of kangaroos and koalas littered everywhere throughout the town.
Moreso, as I found out, it was the knowledge of what was sacrificed and accomplished there by young Australians, some of whom attended Parade College, that brought me from a foreign country thousands of kilometres away to what is, in every meaning of the words, our own Australian soil.
It became clear that Parade is more than a school, it’s a place whose students are capable of making a bearing upon the entire world, and changing the lives forever for the people of a very small town in northern France.
These Old Paradians were truly inspirational; they sacrificed themselves fighting a war which was not theirs to fight, but they were heroes nonetheless. At the most critical hour of the most critical theatre of the war, they went “up there and at ’em” and accomplished what is to this day, the most significant victory for our young nation.
They set an example for all to follow, and I wish they are looked upon for inspiration by all Paradians, current and old, as evidence of how important a single student from Bundoora, Preston, Alphington or Victoria Parade can be in the entire world.
Tenete Traditiones. N’oublions jamais l’Australie.