On November 11, 1918 at 11 o’clock in the morning, the guns on the Western Front were silent after four relentless years of warfare involving 32 nations that mobilised 70 million military personnel. Australia and New Zealand – the ANZACS – had fought with the Allies against Germany and Turkey, suffering between them 76,000 dead and 200,000 wounded.

Now, 103 years later, a group of academics from the University of Southern Queensland are doing their part to ensure that current and future generations learn about the sacrifices of the past and gain a greater understanding of historical events through exploring memorials and monuments.

USQ associate professor Martin Kerby, professor Margaret Baguley, senior lecturer Richard Gehrmann and Dr Alison Bedford have launched an open textbook for educators and students titled, A possession forever: A guide to using commemorative memorials and monuments in the classroom. Professor Baguley said it is a guide to contextualise, interrogate, and extend knowledge of historical events at a national and international level.

“Understanding the ANZAC legend – both the genuine heroics of our servicemen and women and the less glorious parts of our military service – is vital to understanding a core part of Australia’s national identity. Equally, understanding the impact of colonisation on not only First Nations peoples but our society as a whole is vital in addressing contemporary social and political challenges,” she said.

Along with USQ digital curriculum designer and cinematographer Dr Daniel Maddock, the team will share the outcomes of their Department of Veterans Affairs ‘Saluting their Service’ Community Grant project at The Glennie School Remembrance Day Service on November 11.

Dr Bedford is also a teacher at The Glennie School, which served as a repatriation hospital for soldiers coming home to Australia. “Launching this project at Glennie highlights the strong ties the University of Southern Queensland has with our local school communities and draws on long established relationships between educational institutions and wartime efforts,” she said.

Associate professor Martin Kerby said the documentary project included short interviews with people from the USQ-based communities of Toowoomba, Ipswich and Springfield who shared a story about a family member’s military service. “Through the vignettes we explore the military service of personnel through artefacts held by their families, ultimately bringing together a range of diverse and often unknown stories and experiences,” he said. “The extended research team has been incredibly humbled to be trusted with these valued memories and family stories, and it’s nothing short of an honour to be able to launch the documentary project on Remembrance Day.”

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