ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday November 4, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 23

How I was ‘pinned’

On Thursday, September 20, I was "pinned", as the term goes, with my Order of Australia Medal by the Governor of New South Wales, a very gracious woman, Professor Marie Bashir. She is of Lebanese descent and it's encouraging to find that good people of other nationalities are recognized by our Government. She is a mother of three and grandmother of six. She thanked me for my contribution to the "food of Australia," saying, "You have done so much."

Celebration time: Charmaine (centre), with husband Reuben, daughter Debbie and granddaughter Elana

It was a very formal occasion and each person to be invested was allowed only three guests. Mine were my dear husband, Reuben, daughter Debbie and grand-daughter Elana. Debbie drove us to Govt. House, the officers at the front door put a ramp over the steps to accommodate Elana's wheelchair, and we entered the stately building with its turreted roof and high ceilings.

The guests were shown into one large room and those to be invested into another. Someone stood at the door to this room to attach a pin with a hook to the garments we were wearing, so that the Governor would have only to hang the decoration on the hook. We sat in rows, awaiting the arrival of the Governor. A small military band played and nobody attempted to make conversation.

Then somebody came along and gave us a short talk on the proceedings that would follow. One row at a time, we were asked to wait outside, under the colonnades, and to proceed one at a time to receive our decorations. First, each of us paused in the doorway while the citation was read out and then walked the few steps to where Dr. Marie Bashir stood.

Receiving her medal from NSW Governor Dr. Marie Bashir

She shook hands, said a few words and hung our medals on the hook which had already been thoughtfully placed in position. Then we walked past the gathered guests and out the door to where a photographer waited to take our pictures, after which we returned to our seats until everyone was pinned. (Now I know what is meant by "military precision"!)

After that we were invited to have light refreshments outside. It was a pretty cold day, so I was glad I had taken my black cashmere blazer which I put on over my black and white outfit. Reuben had on a woollen suit.

The Governor was quite taken with Elana who, I thought, looked beautiful as always despite being on a wheelchair, and said, "She could be one of ours" - meaning, I guess, that with her dark hair and eyes Elana could pass for a Lebanese. We had a choice of champagne or orange juice or white wine and a delicious array of what in Sri Lanka are called "short-eats".

Next we went to Parliament House, where the Order of Australia Association was holding an afternoon tea and permitted as many guests as the recipient of the Order wished, at $55 per guest. Most of the family joined me here. It was a special occasion and they were very happy to attend, to celebrate my OAM.

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