ANZAC Dawn Service Speech – Laos 2019
25 April 2019
We meet at this early hour, on this day, every year, to honour the heroism, the tenacity, the resilience, and most importantly the memory of the men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to their country.
We gather at first light as a tribute to the Australians and New Zealanders who, before the sun rose on the 25th of April 1915, prepared to land on the Gallipoli Peninsula with the objective of opening the Dardanelles, a strategic shipping route, to the allied navies.
It was hoped that this would result in a swift ending of World War.
How wrong they were.
The casualties at Gallipoli on both sides were immense. Appalling.
The overwhelming strength of the Turkish soldiers, and, let it be said, their bravery, prevented the Allies’ success.
At that time, it could not have been known that this campaign would have such a profound impact on the Australian and New Zealand identity.
It was at this point that the term “ANZAC” would forevermore be etched in our histories.
The term ANZAC is not a place, nor is it a campaign or a war.
It is not a ceremony or a parade either.
The term ANZAC comes from Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
The term ANZAC has now transcended the physical meaning to become a spirt – an inspiration that embodies the qualities of courage, discipline, sacrifice and in Australian terms, that of mateship and a fair go.
We do not gather today to glorify war.
Instead we gather for a simple recognition of the sacrifice, commitment and unselfish devotion by those men and women, on both sides, who served so valiantly for their respective countries and for what they believed in.
So much so, that many knowingly went to their deaths.
This year, 2019, we gather to pay particular homage to our Military nurses.
Ever since the first Australian military nurses sailed for the Boer War in South Africa in 1900, Australian Nurses have served in all theatres of war and conflicts around the world.
But in the past we have too often forgotten the sacrifice these amazing women and men made.
Working under the most challenging conditions, enduring extreme discomfort in the most harrowing circumstances, some of whom have lost their lives, all the while providing aid, support and comfort to the wounded and dying.
We also pause today to acknowledge all current and former members of our defence forces – the brave men and women who represent our country on a daily basis.
Whilst many of us may not have been directly affected by losing a loved one in conflict, no Australian is left untouched when a member of our defence force is killed.
It is difficult to comprehend the grief associated with loss at war of a parent, partner, child, sibling or friend.
It is also difficult to comprehend the images and the memories those who have served carry with them on a daily basis.
So, let us remember them, their families and friends.
We must also not forget the history of both sides; there are no victors in war, only great loss.
The fundamental purpose of today is, and always should continue to be, to pay homage to our veterans and those who gave their lives.
In doing so, we ensure recognition by our young people that today’s peace and freedom required great sacrifice in the past.
Those we honour have left Australia a tradition of courage, selflessness and a fine reputation to follow for the future.
Lest we forget.