Delivered by Major H.W. Fewings RNZIR, Aust Int Corps, Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery [ Rtd.]
We come here, to these memorial places, once every year to honour the sacrifices and preserve the stories of those Australian men and women who gave their lives on active service for our country, Australia.
It is a long and magnificent story – commencing on this day, in 1915, when thousands of young Australian men charged up the cliffs of Gallipoli and into our nation’s history.
I quote the author, Les Carlyon, when he said, “ there were so many of them, over 300,000 in all. But, we never saw them; we never knew them when they were doing the things that made them different from you and me. “
That generation of mainly soldiers and nurses brought back to Australia the values we now hold to be true for us :
Courage in adversity.
Healthy disapproval, for pomposity, in all its forms.
A wonderful ability to laugh at ourselves.
The next generation of Australians, in the 1940s, recognized the evil they faced.
And they fought it!
And they won!
And, all of us, the living and the yet to be born must be eternally grateful to them for their sacrifices.
Our systems of Government, the great institutions of our nation, Justice, Health, Education and the fabulous wealth from our agriculture and mining; would not belong to us if that generation of Australians had not prevailed. We owe them.
Subsequent generations, of Australian men and women, in Korea, Malaysia, Borneo and South Vietnam displayed that same courage and commitment for our National safety and well being.
Today, young Australian men and women are in Iraq and Afghanistan have been in East Timor in our uniform, displaying the qualities we honour today.
We know of peacekeeping missions on the continent of Africa, led and staffed by Australian fighting men and women: these missions are never peaceful and always dangerous. Any military operation of any kind always risks blood and treasure.
Today we honour their sacrifices, to provide support and assistance to their loved ones who have to live without them, or with damaged bodies and souls which struggle so hard to overcome what war does.
These memories and these stories are yours in this region – their fellow veterans ask that you remember them with honour, treasure their stories and pass them on with respect and truth.
They deserve nothing less than that – and we must do this for them.
Thank You all for being here today, sharing these moments with us……may God speed you all safely home.