A survivor becomes ambassador for the day

January 26, 2010 by J-Wire Staff
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Richard Rozens, a Holocaust survivor, spent his Australia Day as a special Ambassador to the tiny town of Girgarre 190kms north of Melbourne.Rozens visited the dairy farming centre with his wife Rsyia, one of many ambassadors sent to centres in Victoria.

Rysia Rozens, who visited Girgarre with her husband, filed this report for J-Wire….

Richard Rozens presents the award to Laurella Simpson

Over 100 people gathered at the Girgarre Memorial Hall for the celebration of  Australia Day.

Julie Rogers, President of the Girgarre Community Group Inc. welcomed the guests in hall decorated with Australian flags.

We sang National Anthem and read an Affirmation for the Australian Citizenship.

Neil Grummitt, former Councillor of Girgarre chaired the event  which would announce Laurella Simpson as the recipient of the Girgarre Community Award. She won it because she had been one of the community’s mainstays for many years and an integral part of its infrastructure.

Simpson was moved to tears.  Grummitt presented Richard with a Woolworth pin as the Australia day Ambassador asWoolworth /Safeway are sponsors of the Australia Day celebrations.

Before Richard was introduced, the audience heard  part of his CV.  Richard spoke briefly about his experiences during the war, telling how he hid in a cupboard with his parents.  He called a 7 year old boy to demonstrate, how his father drew with his finger on his palm letters and numbers, and wispered them in Richard’s ear.  Richard spoke about the opportunities Australia had given him as a migrant coming from an underprivileged background, who spent as a child and youth time in orphanages in France, etc.

Grummit spoke about the history of the Citizenship ceremonies, and importance of migrants  to Australia.

The Fig  Farmers, a band of nine musicians entertained us with songs: ‘This land is your land’, ‘We have done us proud’ and others.

Certificates, hats , medals with a koala and Australia Day badges were presented to many children some as young as 1st grade who participated in an Australia Day painting competition.

Following a sausage sizzle, and more music from the ‘Fig farmers’ band, Lynne and Rober Axen, invited us to their place for a cup of tea explaining the dire situation with  water.  Many farms have disappeared as they cannot keep cows or grow crops.

We visited the Girgarre & District War Memorial, unveiled 30th October 2009 andplaced in a park opposite their RSL Hall. The  Girgarre community of under 200, raised well over $10,000 to have it erected.  They had a grant of $4,000 from the Gov. It is made of black granite with gold letters and insignias.

We really did not know what to expect, but agreed as we drove back to Melbourne that this had been a real treat and a privilege.


One Response to “A survivor becomes ambassador for the day”
  1. Michael says:

    What an honor. I would like to hear Rozens’ stories regarding his childhood firsthand. Survivors of the Holocaust deserve so much respect. I can’t believe all that they went through.

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