Calrossy Alumni Major Liz Daly (Class of 2003) returned to Calrossy for the School's ANZAC Service as the guest speaker, these are the words that she shared with all the students and staff.


Presented by MAJ Liz Daly (class of 2003 )

Good morning to the Calrossy community. Before I begin I would just like to take this opportunity to say how thankful I am to be invited to come back and speak here today at your ANZAC Day commemoration. It is even more fitting that today, 23 years ago, I actually commenced my journey at Calrossy. I started in Term 2 of year 10 as a boarder. It wasn’t quite the best start – in all honesty I was shipped away to boarding school from Sydney. Just prior to the end of Term 1 of year 10 I found myself in a bit of trouble at my day school, St Vincent’s College, and as a result sent away to the country to sort me out. I by no means saw myself as naughty but I think Mr Doran would disagree! I definitely had my fair share of detentions, ironically mainly for not following the uniform rules. I also often had my bed flipped by Miss Margery, Meg and Courtney for never making it. I am now in a job that makes me follow strict uniform rules and I am very very good at making my bed!

As the lone Sydney girl back then I was seen as a bit of a novelty – a random girl dropped off with handwritten notes on how to use a washing machine and also an owner of a mobile phone, which was still a bit of a novelty back in the day. Two of the first people I ever met are actually here today. Liz, who went on to become my best friend, housemate after uni and all round awesome human and Bindy, my roommate for most of my time as a boarder and was also our school captain. Bindo told me she was going to pull faces at me today to try and make me laugh so I’ll avoid looking at her.

The girls took great delight in seeing how naïve I was about country living – they told me there was an ice skating rink in Narrabri (I actually believed it until I visited there in year 11) and that it was acceptable to write “nice rump” when doing cattle judging. It didn’t help that I was scared of cows! But overall Calrossy was the home I didn’t realise I was looking for. And the girls became my sisters. Even today we are all still incredibly close and I am truly thankful for Calrossy for affording me that friendship.

Today I stand before you not just as a former Calrossy girl, but as a Major in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps. This is my 14th year serving in the Australian Defence Force and it is a true honour to be speaking to you all today about ANZAC Day.

Australians and New Zealanders gathered last week across the globe to mark Anzac Day; not to celebrate or glorify war, but to commemorate and honour more than 102,000 Australians who have sacrificed so much for this country, for our freedoms and in the hope of a better life.

Anzac Day provides an opportunity to remember not only those who served in World War One, whose selflessness in the darkest of times established the Anzac tradition and values our nation honours. But also those who proudly wore the “Australia” patch on their shoulder in World War Two, Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Vietnam, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. And those who continue to serve today. We gather to remember, acknowledge and show our respect to the Australian Servicemen and women who have fought and died in every major conflict this century.  We, of course, also acknowledge that there are many who served their homeland in conflicts and have since moved to Australia, become Australians, have adopted our way of life and accept that Anzac Day is the time to remember lost “friends”.

On my left I wear a rack of medals. And for those who attended the marches last week, or watched them on tv, you would’ve seen a lot of other veterans wearing their medals proudly on their left too. But these medals we didn’t win – we earned. They are symbolic of the selflessness, bravery and unwavering commitment each of us have made to serve our country. To fight for peace and freedom. It also serves as a reminder that freedom isn’t free. It has been bought and paid for with the blood, sweat, and tears of countless men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this amazing country we live in. Their courage echoes through the ages from the earliest conflicts, reminding us of the tremendous cost of our freedom.

My medal on my left, the blue medal with a number 2 on it, is the most recent one I earned after spending 12 months deployed to Israel returning mid-January this year. I was located up on the borders of Israel, Syria and Lebanon working for the United Nations, which was ironic as I attended the Model United Nations as a student when here at Calrossy. You might have heard the names of these countries on the news – it’s because they are all at war with each other.

This role required me to monitor and observe the three countries IOT ensure they didn’t harm or destroy each other. This included during the first three months of the Israel-Hamas War. During this period I was locked in our compound with a kiwi and a Fijian. My very own ANZAC combination with Brock the Kiwi. We were unarmed, no way in or out due to the Israel Defence Force owning the keys to the fence on the border and we also began to run out of food, fuel and water. We had regular, I’m talking at least daily for the first few weeks, missile attacks over us or near us. It was by far the most scared I have ever been.

But, like the original ANZACs so many many years and conflicts ago, we worked together to get through the hard times. We’d share meals, pass the rugby ball, we even watched Bluey! The ANZACs, known for their indomitable spirit and resilience in the face of adversity, also possessed a unique and unmistakable sense of humour that served as a coping mechanism during the darkest of times. Despite the hardships they faced on the battlefield, they found ways to find lightness amidst the darkness, using humour as a tool to lift their spirits and bond with their comrades.

We too applied this with some pretty average dad jokes, memes and just trying to find a way to laugh at our situation. One example was that the only drinking water we could buy to take up for the 28 days was soda water. Let me tell you – this was a long time to survive on soda water! But it became our token – we made scones, used it to wash ourselves as showering was able to occur and we even used it for some spots fires. Even in the face of danger and uncertainty, the ANZACs never lost their ability to find joy in the small things, to laugh in the face of adversity, and to forge bonds of friendship that would last a lifetime. Their humour, like their courage, was an enduring legacy that inspired Brock and I to find light in the darkest of times. He is now a mate for life.

Anzac Day is the opportunity for the two countries, Australia and New Zealand, both Nationally and individually, to mourn those who have lost their lives in battle, and also for those who have passed away since.  It is also an opportunity to pay tribute to those who are with us today, and to celebrate their legacy to us - of our freedom and our identity as nations.

There are no winners in War and Anzac Day provides an opportunity to reflect on those whose sacrifices are not always immediately obvious – those who return to re-integrate with society, often dealing with physical or mental scars. The families who carry the burden of war in support of their loved ones; and the women, many of whom served alongside our men, but who also, most often, carry the responsibility of maintaining a sense of normality for the families that remain behind.

My time at Calrossy set me up for success as a member of the ADF. It taught me loyalty – that mateship is amazing and you need to make sure to keep those important people in your life. My time at calrossy taught me that women can not only do anything, but working together we are even stronger and able to achieve more. As a female veteran in a male dominated environment I have had some challenges. It is crucial to recognize the service of females in the military, breaking barriers and contributing significantly to our armed forces. The spirit of mateship transcends gender, uniting us as one force with a shared commitment to peace.

And finally, aligned with your theme this year of courage, it taught me to be brave. I was scared starting a new school, I wasn’t the smartest or hardest worker during my time here and I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school. It took me 7 years after graduating to have the courage to join the military. But with supportive mates and staff around me I was always encouraged to chase my dreams, follow my passions and not compare myself to anyone else. I was enough being me.

On a side note, and whilst not directly helping me, my Calrossy roots ran further than I expected. The ADF is very much about team work and we always have a battle buddy alongside us helping us. At the Royal Military College Duntroon, where I completed my Officer training, I was paired up with a male classmate as my battle buddy. We did everything together – made each other’s beds, checked each other’s uniforms, cleared our weapons together, I even helped him with his ironing! In the military where we come from, what school we went to etc – it means nothing. What matters is that you’re a good person and that you have your mate’s back. And so we don’t really spend much time on small talk, nor did we have time at the training establishment.

It wasn’t until we were into our second week, when I made a joke about how bad I’d been at making my bed in boarding school, that he said he had been a boarder too! He then added “yeah, it was a school in this place called Tamworth”. That’s correct - my first ever battel buddy somehow ended up being a Farrer boy. The ole Calrossy Farrer relationship lives on! And he continues to serve today – MAJ Brent Paish, Officer Commanding at the School of Infantry in Singleton.

Today, as we gather in remembrance, let us honour the courage of the ANZACs not just in words, but in our actions. Make it so that when you thank a veteran for their service they can continue to reply “You are worth it”. For every sacrifice made, every hardship endured, is done so with the belief that our nation and its people are deserving of nothing less.

Today I charge you to take up the torch, to honour the promise, not just on ANZAC day, not just in memory of battle, sacrifice and death, but to uphold and be a part of the “Spirit of the ANZAC”, the Australian spirit.

When help is needed, give it.

Be there to lend a hand in times of trouble.

Offer your willing support and sympathy in times of sorrow and sadness.

Be a good human, lift up those who are less fortunate, aid the ill and infirm.

Be there and give as those who went before us have sacrificed and given.

Not just today, not just on ANZAC day, or other significant days of remembrance, but everyday.

For only then will we honour the fallen, only then will we as a society truly live up to the charge that has been placed upon us, only then can we truly know that we have done what is true and right.

And only then can we know that we have lived up to the promise we make every time we utter the words:

“Lest we forget”.