26 November 2018

The concept of remembrance to a community like Scotch is seminal to who we are and for what we stand. Culture and tradition do not result from osmosis; they grow out of years of sharing our stories, celebrating our successes and supporting each other in our losses.

Last Thursday we said farewell to a significant OSC. While it was a sad loss, our Chaplain Rev Lewis conducted a service which celebrated the life of Mr John Hill OSC '50. John had been our School Captain and Pipe Major in 1951, Captain of Alexander House in 1950 and President of the OSC 1978-79. More importantly he was a granddad of three Scotch boys whose own lives had been formed through listening to stories about Scotch. During his funeral service, the stories told and the memories we all shared were about the type of person John was to his family, school and friends; not about his academic or professional milestones, although he had many. The service reinforced all that is great about our College and reinforced the value of having a community for life once leaving Year 12.

Each year we celebrate Remembrance Day which is one of the very few days in the year where we gather as a whole school from Pre-Primary to Year 12. We do so because it is an integral part of sharing the lives of those in our community who paid the ultimate sacrifice, the loss of their own life so that future generations of Scotch boys and their families could experience what it means to live in freedom.

With the pace at which we work and live, our role is to ensure our boys understand that there is a reason that places such as the hallowed ground where the boys continue to play football and cricket, Memorial Oval, was created so that we never forget the staff and students who did not return from the 'Great War'. Memorial Oval was commenced as a result of the Old Boys raising a start-up fund of 948 pounds. This is a similar story to how our College commenced with a donation of 500 pounds in 1896 from Jane Alexander.

It is so easy in our busy lives to forget to stop and remember. Our College history records that in 1932 the memory of the Great War and the reason for establishing the Memorial Oval had faded from the minds of many.

For many of us the loss of life in the pursuit of freedom is sometimes hard to comprehend. 'Dum' Reilly, editor of our Reporter in 1922-23 reflected on 'towards higher ideals'. He considered the need for boys at that time to have heroes to look up to:

'Man as a whole evinces a natural inclination towards higher ideals. This is true of his whole life, but nowhere is the tendency so well marked as in youth… He is filled with noble and chivalrous ideals…with admiration for the intrepidity and courage of his special hero, and desires to emulate his efforts.'

In our College history (p 154), it is recorded that one of the outcomes of the Great War which lasted well into the 1920s for Scotch College was the development of cult worship. The heroism of young men who died in the war was held up as an example to the boys at Scotch. Leith Tucker the editor of the Colleges magazine in 1916-17 had this to say:

'We are proud of the heroic dead who will receive no decorations from an earthly potentate, but who, no doubt, will receive their reward when the last trumpet shall sound, and we shall all stand before the judgement of the throne of God.''

He went on to say:

'...we have also to prove that we will become men, in the true sense of the word, such as they are. Our struggles are only beginning: our trials are just commencing, hardships are unknown to us; but when these things come in earnest, may we be as loyal and as faithful to the old School as the Old Boys are today.'

Our coming together for Remembrance Day each year is one part of sharing our rich and vibrant history. In the words of our College motto 'May God be with us as He was with our forefathers'.

Dr A J O'Connell