A family connection is what spurred Marymede Catholic College student Michael Manoussakis to enter the Premier’s Spirit of Anzac awards.
With the task of writing an entry based of the relevance of the Anzac spirit to life in Australia today, the young student decided to follow his migratory past and look into the Greek connection of World War I through his grandparents.
“Ι entered it because I am really interested about the history of the region where my family comes from,” Michael tells Neos Kosmos.
“My grandmother comes from an island next to Lemnos, Imvros, and this competition gave me the chance to focus on the Mediterranean and Europe and that interests me.”
He is now one of twelve young Victorians who will be packing their bags and heading on an overseas trip that will give them the opportunity to visit Gallipoli, the Western Front and, for the first time, Lemnos in Greece.
It has been years in the making to include the island as a stop over point for the trip. Since the competition’s inception in 2004, the groups have only visited Crete in Greece and have missed the crucial point of Lemnos.
Michael’s entry was chosen out of 500 diverse entries that included essays, drawings, poems and songs.
His essay reflected the way Greece’s involvement with the Anzac soldiers paved the way for a deep friendship between the two countries and helped his grandparents eventually migrate.
“The essay that I wrote was about how the courage of the Anzacs is reflected in our multicultural society and I also spoke about the fact that if it wasn’t for the Australian forces’ involvement in the conflict in the Mediterranean, my grandparents might not have had the opportunity to migrate to Australia. It is because of the ANZACs that I am here today,” he says.
Through his research, Michael was able to uncover that his grandfather fought in both World War I and World War II and he discovered lots of first hand stories of the battle fronts.
Despite his strong interest in history, the 15-year-old student is looking towards following a career in engineering.
During the trip in April, the students will be guided by Professor Bruce Scates, an expert on World War I history.
Minster for Veteran Affairs Hugh Delahunty says this competition is one of the best ways for the younger generation to keep the story of the Anzacs alive for other generations.
“This trip will be an important milestone for each of those 12 students, and will ensure that the stories of our Anzacs are kept alive with the younger generations,” he said.
This year marks the beginning of the Anzac Centenary period and will be a time many Australians will be remembering the sacrifice both Australians and Greeks made in the war.
Entries for the Spirit of Anzac Prize in 2014-15 are now open to year nine and ten students. For more information about the awards visit www.veterans.vic.gov.au