Spe­cial place and oc­ca­sion

The Tatura Guardian - - Community - — Murchi­son & Dis­trict His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Kay Ball

The Os­sario, in a quiet cor­ner of theMurchi­son Ceme­tery was com­pleted in 1961 and is a beau­ti­fully crafted Mediter­ranean-style build­ing.

It con­tains the re­mains of Ital­ian Pris­on­ers of War and In­ternees who died on Aus­tralian soil dur­ing World War II.

Ev­ery year, on the sec­ond Sun­day in Novem­ber, hun­dreds of peo­ple gather to re­mem­ber the 129 men and one woman for whom the Os­sario is their last rest­ing place.

On Sun­day, Novem­ber 11, this year, a warm sunny day with a lovely clear blue sky, the oc­ca­sion was again well at­tended by more than 300 peo­ple.

Mostly of Ital­ian de­scent, they trav­elled from Mel­bourne, in­ter­state, over­seas and across Vic­to­ria and were joined by lo­cals who ap­pre­ci­ate this spe­cial oc­ca­sion.

The cer­e­mony was mov­ing, suit­ably rev­er­ent and also colour­ful with many Ital­ian Mil­i­tary Ser­vice uni­forms, ban­ners, flags, flo­ral wreaths and bou­quets in abun­dance.

The of­fi­cial ser­vice be­gan with a pro­ces­sion along the cy­press-lined path lead­ing to the Os­sario. Of­fi­cials, such as the Ital­ian Con­sul Gen­eral, coun­cil­lors from City of Greater Shep­par­ton, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of many Ital­ian Ser­vice and Mil­i­tary Clubs, Aus­tralian Re­turned Ser­vice groups, lo­cal school chil­dren, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Murchi­son Lions Club and His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety were called for­ward to walk to­wards the mon­u­ment in the fore­court where they laid their flo­ral trib­utes, then gath­ered on the steps of the Os­sario build­ing.

This year I had the priv­i­lege of lay­ing a beau­ti­ful flo­ral wreath on be­half of the fam­ily of Nicola Evan­ge­lista, whose fam­ily only re­cently dis­cov­ered that his re­mains were housed in the Os­sario.

Joanne Ta­pi­o­las, a Queens­land author who re­cently pub­lished Walk­ing in their Boots telling the story of the Ital­ian Pris­on­ers ofWar in Queens­land, or­gan­ised the flow­ers from Avon­lea Flow­ers for me to place on the memo­rial.

In the course of her re­search for the book, Joanne was able to find Nicola in the Os­sario at Murchi­son.

The fam­ily, who live in Italy, only had knowl­edge fromhis war record that he had died in Aus­tralia, but no more de­tail than that.

To learn that his re­mains lie re­spect­fully in the well cared for Os­sario, and that each year there is a spe­cial memo­rial ser­vice, has given great peace to this fam­ily who have won­dered about his where­abouts for more than 70 years.

Af­ter the lay­ing of flo­ral ar­range­ments, the singing of the Aus­tralian and Ital­ian Na­tional An­thems took place.

Ev­ery­one ob­served a thought­ful and re­spect­ful si­lence as the most mov­ing and heart wrench­ing trum­pet ren­di­tion of Il Silen­zio, (The Si­lence) was played.

I have to con­fess it brings tears to my eyes ev­ery year.

Var­i­ous dig­ni­taries ad­dressed the crowd with mes­sages about the sig­nif­i­cance of the oc­ca­sion and ap­peals for this sa­cred place and those it hon­ours not to be for­got­ten.

A Catholic Mass was held in the Ital­ian lan­guage in­clud­ing the singing of hymns fa­mil­iar to many nonI­tal­ian speak­ing who were also present.

Af­ter the cer­e­mony was com­pleted, those at­tend­ing gath­ered at the lo­cal com­mu­nity cen­tre and in the River­bank Gar­dens to en­joy lunch to­gether and to be en­ter­tained by bands play­ing favourite Ital­ian­mu­sic and there was even some danc­ing.

Dur­ing the years the older gen­er­a­tion who at­tended in the 1960s, when as many as 1200 peo­ple were said to be present, have passed away or are no longer well enough to make the jour­ney to Murchi­son.

We can only hope that the younger gen­er­a­tion, par­tic­u­larly with Ital­ian her­itage and fam­ily con­nec­tions to those whose re­mains lie in the Os­sario, con­tinue with this im­por­tant pil­grim­age each year to at­tend the Memo­rial Ser­vice.

Left:

Be­low:

Above: Dig­ni­taries on the steps of the Os­sario as the trum­pet plays.Coun­cil­lor Dinny Adem pays his re­spects.Lin­ing up for the Pro­ces­sion on Novem­ber 11.

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