An international ambassador for friendship

Erskine Park High School student an Australian Ambassador in Pacific War education program.

19 December 2019
Zack Lynch with Jeffrey Fletcher at the Miyajima Island Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima.
Image: Zack Lynch with Jeffrey Fletcher at the Miyajima Island Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima.

Just 75 years ago young men not much older than Year 10 Erskine Park High School student, Zack Lynch, were returning to Sydney broken after serving their country in the Pacific war.

This week Zack landed back in Sydney but instead of being scarred by war he was enriched; his life changed forever by his experience as Australia’s Ambassador for the War and Peace in the Pacific Program 75.

Organised by the Australian Maritime Museum Senior Education Officer, Jeffrey Fletcher, the program brought together three ambassadors from Australia, Japan and the United States for a nine-day tour of Japan.

Highlights included a visit to the Commonwealth War Cemetery, sharing time with students at the Sendai Shirayuri School, and meeting survivors of air raids and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

Erskine Park High teacher Chelsea Neubronner, who travelled with Zack, said she was incredibly proud of his moving speech at the war cemetery in which he paid homage to the bravery and sacrifice of fallen service personnel and encouraged the growth of peace throughout the world.

“I watched his confidence grow as he continued to present speeches and converse with people,” Ms Neubronnersaid.

“He approached situations with greater empathy and poise. The project has had a profound and lasting impact on Zack.”

Ms Neubronner said she was impressed by the friendship and comradery that developed between the ambassadors and others on the project.

For Zack, there was a chilling realisation that, just 75 years ago, those with whom he developed such a close bond could have been mortal enemies.

“The thought that we could have been on opposing sides of a war is terrible to me,” Zack said.

“This line of thought only strengthened my already strong belief in maintaining peace so that our friendships and international partnerships won’t be split and divided by war.”

Zack believes that the Hiroshima Memorial Museum, and being one of the last generation to meet survivors, will last long in his memory. But his time at the Yokohama Commonwealth War Cemetery will be etched in his memory forever.

“The cemetery will last long due to it being linked to me through my countrymen being buried there and seeing all those graves with such young ages affected me greatly,” Zack said.

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