Pop’s Anzac spirit inspires Manjimup student ahead of international honour

Anjelica SmilovitisManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Mazlyn Membry.
Camera IconMazlyn Membry. Credit: Supplied

Year 10 Manjimup Senior High School student Mazlyn Membry was one of 10 student ambassadors selected for the 2024 Premier’s Singapore Program this month.

Her selection came after hearing about the program from a teacher, which had her write an essay about her grandfather, Private Richard Rooney who was in the Vietnam War and died recently.

“For me the Anzac Spirit is the mateship, and the larrikinism, and the hard work of the Anzac,” she said.

“I chose to write about my pop because he demonstrates all of that, and he demonstrated this during and after the Vietnam War.

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“I was close with him when he was alive, but he never really spoke about the war stories much. So, I heard (of) many (stories) from my aunty and grandma.”

After her successful application, Mazlyn embarked on the 10-day trip to Singapore, where they learnt more about the Anzac legacy and honoured those who served in the armed forces.

The educational tour coincided with the 82nd anniversary of the fall of Singapore and marked 106 years since the signing of the Armistice.

A standout moment for Mazlyn was the visit to the Charlie Chapel Museum where they were told about the determination and spirit of the prisoners of war.

“The Japanese let them build the chapel because they couldn’t take away everything from the prisoners of war or they would have miserable people that wouldn’t work for them. I thought that was amazing,” Mazlyn said

“They built this chapel with the limited resources, and it was incredible.

“We saw replica paintings on the wall, I think it was stages of crucifixion, and they were created with really, really limited resources by the prisoners of war.

“This shows how dedicated and devoted they were to their religion. Even though the prisoners of war had limited material, it showed how hardworking they were, and how they came together and did this.

“The tour has filled me up with so much knowledge and hearing about the prisoners of war showed me more about the Anzac spirit itself.

“These experiences will stay with me for my whole life.

“If I had learned it another way, just reading it from textbooks, it wouldn’t have been the same. Visiting the sites has been an incredible experience.”

Mazlyn shared her deep appreciation for what the diggers had done, and the importance of letting history inform the future.

“It’s the respect I have for them, and because my grandfather was one of them,” she said.

“The tour taught me historical things, but it also a lot about myself and life lessons. I’ve come back from this tour completely changed.”

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