Speech at the Anzac Day Dawn Service, Gallipoli

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Speech at the Anzac Day Dawn Service, Gallipoli




As we stand here, with the light about to break, we wonder what they must have

felt as they looked out from their landing ships and thought about what lay

before them.

They were volunteers. They were young. They were half a world away from their

homes. And the balance of their lives lay before them.

They would have been anxious, nervous, frightened yet exhilarated. Many had

joined up out of a sense of adventure. And now the landing was about to begin.

How would it go for them? And how would it go for the men of the ANZAC Corps?

The first shots would have shattered any illusions they had about war.

One of the men who carried the wounded described it as: “one of the roughest

places on God’s earth”. Their foe controlled the heights. They soon became

acquainted with suffering and death. There was nothing glorious about it. It

was awful and it was wretched.

The ANZACs would never command the heights which were the key to controlling

the Peninsula. They met a well organised and brilliantly commanded defence.

They dug in against impossible odds and held it. When they successfully withdrew,

over 8,000 had lost their lives. They were young. They had everything to live

for but they died in the service of their country and their fellow citizens.

Before that day in April 1915 few Australians would have known the name Gallipoli.

But even now, 88 years later, it is a name we cannot forget.

What the men could not have known that fateful day in 1915 was how their deeds

would impress themselves on the identity of a nation.

The Argus newspaper in December 1915 quoted Major General James McCay declaring:

“…the first sacred spot in the history of Australia was the ANZAC

beach and the heights above it.”

And so we come to this sacred spot to pay homage. We come to pay homage to

them – the original ANZACs – and to pay homage to the nation and its ideals

which they helped to create.

Until ANZAC the story of Australia had been the story of settlement, of colony

and federation. Federation provided the constitutional basis for a nation. But

ANZAC gave that nation a consciousness of itself – the knowledge that Australians

were distinct and different, and now proud:- with their own feats of courage

and their own history on the international stage.

These are the men of ANZAC, sons, brothers, husbands, mates who had a common

purpose, who had courage in the face of extremity, who suffered with a generous

acceptance, who had a belief in their cause but a sense of proportion. Despite

the privation, and despite the carnage, they came to honour and respect their

foe. And their foe honoured and respected them. Turkey too found a new sense

of nationhood under a new national leader who fought here at Gallipoli.

ANZACs would go on to much greater military success in the 1914-18 War in Palestine

and the fields of France. Our servicemen and women would later distinguish themselves

in the Pacific and Korea, Vietnam and other conflicts closer to home. Even today

young Australian men and women are serving in theatres of war. Let us remember


But we keep coming back to this place. This is the place that will live forever

in the mind and the soul of every Australian.

Today there are many young Australians here. Like their great grandfathers

and great great grandfathers they have travelled half a world away from their

homes to be here today out of love of their country. They want to pay homage

and to take something of the ideals that were established here that day in 1915.

They want the ideals of ANZAC to inspire and nourish them again. And they want

the legacy never to be forgotten.

For Australians this is a sacred place. As long as there are Australians this

place and what happened here will not be forgotten.