100 Years // 3mins 6secs // Australia // 2015

‘100 Years’ is a song about remembering soldiers from The Great War, by John and Elisabeth Dykstra – ‘The Berrys’.

‘100 Years’ was inspired when our family was driving into Braidwood late one summer afternoon in 2014, on the way home from the beach. As we approached the town the low angle of the sun glancing into an avenue of tall poplar trees created an even pattern of deep shadow and bright sunlight across the road. The effect of driving into this at highway speed was blinding, like being blasted with an intense strobe light. It felt like we were under attack. We talked about how frightening a real battle would be and then about the memorial avenues planted to remember the soldiers who fought in The Great War. There’s the long and impressive Avenue of Honour in Ballarat and there’s the memorials erected in so many towns around the country. By the time we crested the hill in Braidwood’s main street and passed the soldiers’ memorial the first two lines of ‘100 Years’ were written. ‘Flashing lights of an expensive memory. Flicker in the corner of my eye, they’re blinding me.’ Seeing the marble statue on top of the memorial shaped the rest of the song; will people still remember in another 100 years?

John and Elisabeth worked on the song for the next few months. The first verse asks that question, will we remember 100 years from now? The second verse attempts to understand what it was like to be a soldier fighting in the battles, wondering if anyone would remember. The song’s bridge portrays the statue as a lonely old survivor who enjoys the attention and the spectacle of ANZAC day marches. Then, in the third verse the old survivor is looking out a million miles and sees his old comrades walking off into the distance; they’re calling for him to join them.

In the first version of the song the third verse included words in French, which came from our family’s visit to the Australian war memorial at Villers Brettoneaux. ‘Où est le mémorial pour les Aussies? La parade de vert et d’or et bleu jamais finis’. Translated – ‘Where is the memorial for the Australians? The parade of green and gold and blue will never end.’ Australians will never stop coming to this French village, which has declared that it will never forget Australia.

John and Elisabeth changed those two lines before recording the song for entry into the ACT Chief Minister’s ANZAC Spirit Prize, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the landings at Gallipoli. ‘Mothers far away your sons are lying here. They’ve become our sons as well so wipe away your tears’. It took them a few weeks to settle on these lines, after drafting many versions, as a summary of the very moving words of Mustafa Kemal ‘Ataturk’ to the mothers of the ANZACs who died at Gallipoli.

John and Elisabeth did the filming for most of the video clip at Braidwood, in one busy day. For the opening shot Elisabeth held the camera on a monopod sticking way out of the front passenger window, aiming back at John in the rear seat, while dad drove down the avenue of poplars at 80 kilometres per hour, several times. Where’s a policeman when you need one? For the stop-motion scene where the shadow of the statue swings around as the sun moves across the sky, John took up the same position in the middle of the road every 15 minutes for three hours. He’s a bit sunburnt in the last scenes where he and Elisabeth are singing in the Braidwood town park, much to the amusement of guests arriving for a wedding at the adjacent pub. Other scenes were filmed at the Ataturk memorial in Canberra and in Ballarat by Emily Bray from Loreto College.

John travelled to Gallipoli in April 2015 with the three other ANZAC Spirit Prize winners. Elisabeth stayed home. John owes her heaps, she tells him, often. John was 16 years old and Elisabeth was 13 when they produced the song and video. It’s on iTunes, Google Play etc and has earned them ten dollars and forty-four cents.