A picture is worth 1,000 words, and when pictures appeared of school children in Queensland holding guns and rocket launchers, the online setback was rapid and widespread.
- Pictures of Queensland school children holding gun sparks online backlash
- The Gayndah community honors one of their own – Sapper Jacob Moerland, who died in Afghanistan in 2010 – by forging close ties with his regiment
- Defense Forces confirms that children had parental permission to carry weapons and other weapons
But locals in Gayndah – led by North Burnett Mayor Rachel Chambers – have defended the photographs, saying they had been misunderstood and blown out of proportion by critics on social media.
“This is not war history as it was made to be,” Cr Chambers said.
Cr Chambers said the Gayndah community had a special relationship with the Australian Defense Forces, which dated more than a decade.
In 2010, Sapper Jacob Moerland (21) from Gayndah was killed when an improvised explosive device was detonated during a foot patrol in Afghanistan.
“Jacob was a much loved larrikin in Gayndah and one [former] students at Gayndah State School and then at Burnett State College, ”said Cr Chambers.
“They kick feet, talk about teamwork, they demonstrate the different roles of the defense force, including the detection of explosives.
Parents and locals have thrown their support behind the regiment’s visit to Gayndah.
“Like many parents, I was there with our boys,” said parent Ben Golchert.
“They had fun and saw something they normally did not want.
Another local, Tammy Shorten, said the late Sapper Moerland and his family were “much-loved members of the community.”
“It’s nice that 2CER [regiment] came back all the time to help honor them. They do a fantastic job in our community, ”said Mrs Shorten.
A spokesman for the defense said that routine training and community events were conducted in Gayndah for two weeks in July 2021.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Education said students benefited from an interactive, informative discussion on weapons.
“The soldiers explained the dangers of weapons, what they are used for and how the regiment trains with them,” the spokesman said.
“The school and the community honor them [who] has fallen while we selflessly serve our country. “
Honor a fallen soldier
Cr Chambers said the death of Sapper Moerland had ruined his family and shaken the close community.
The 2nd Combat Engineering Regiment continues to visit the community more than a decade later.
“The regiment also returns every Anzac day to spend the day with Jacob’s mother and sister, RSL, and their extended Gayndah community,” she said.