Sacred Heart College student’s Anzac Day cross touches heart of Belgian man

AN Anzac Day remembrance cross made three years ago by a Sorrento student has touched the heart of a Belgian man.

In 2014, the Australian War Memorial gave a Sacred Heart College Year 9 history class the opportunity to write on small wooden crosses a personal message of gratitude and remembrance for those who served during World War I.

The crosses would be placed on the graves of Australian soldiers who fought on the Western Front battlefields of Belgium and France.

Lauren Larranaga-Trivess’ message gave the definition of courage and applied this to the Anzac soldiers who fought for their country.

At this year’s Anzac Day ceremony at Polygon Wood in Belgium, Christof Gabriels, a Belgian man who lost a family member during World War I, placed Lauren’s cross next to a headstone of one of the soldiers.

He then emailed Sacred Heart College to tell Lauren of the effect her cross had on his journey to find out what happened to that family member.

Mr Gabriels said Lauren’s message was “very touching”.

“I am pleased to learn that young Australian people want to be involved in the remembrance of World War I,” he said.

Lauren said she was “very honoured” to receive the message from Mr Gabriels and get an update on her cross three years later.

“I will be emailing Mr Gabriels to learn his story, share more about Anzac Day in Australia and continue to discuss why I chose to write about courage on the cross,” she said.Humanities teacher Lisa Reynders said the experience provided students with a “poignant opportunity to reflect on their recent studies of World War I and remember those who had sacrificed their lives in war”.

“Knowing that each student’s message would be arranged on a war grave or memorial bought home a better understanding of the human cost of war.”

Mr Gabriels’ letter to Lauren

Hi Lauren,

At first you might think why does a complete stranger contact me?

Well, I attended the Anzac Day in Polygon Wood (Belgium) yesterday.

Both our countries lost a lot of young men in this war.

I also lost a member of our family during the war.

I wanted to know what happened to him, so I started looking for some info.

During this search, I visited Polygon Wood and heard of Anzac Day for the first time.

In my opinion, these brave men also deserve a lot of respect so that’s why I attended the ceremony.

We were asked to put a remembrance cross next to a headstone of one of the soldiers.

And that’s where I took your cross.

I must say, your text was very touching.

I’m also pleased to learn that young Australian people want to be involved in the remembrance of World War I.

So I said to myself: it might be good to inform the person who wrote the text what happened to it.

Hope you like that.

I would be very pleased to get some feedback from your side.

Best regards,

Christof Gabriels