ANZAC DAY Address by Australian Ambassador Mr Rod Smith
25 April 2010
Secretary of National Defense Gonzales
AFP Chief of Staff, General Bangit
Other senior members of the Philippine Government and Armed Forces;
Colleagues from the diplomatic and attaché corps
Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys.
On this day every year, in cities and towns right across Australia and New Zealand and in countries all over the world, we gather to honour the memory of those who have given their lives in the service of our countries. We come together to pay tribute to their bravery, and to reflect on the sacrifices they have made to protect the freedoms and values that we cherish.
Today marks the 95th anniversary of the day in 1915 when some 30,000 young soldiers from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps – the ANZACs – landed on the coast of Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula as part of an ambitious and ultimately ill-fated military campaign to seize control of the Peninsula for the allied forces.
No one could have foreseen then the horrors that would unfold over the following eight months of the campaign. But in the dark hours immediately preceding the first landing, what fear must have gripped those young soldiers so far from home. The war historian Charles Bean, who was with them, captured a sense of foreboding when he wrote
It’s a great gamble, the whole thing really… and a lot of Australians – boys who began their life on the Murray or in a backyard in Wagga or Bourke or Surry Hills, will be left lying in Turkey.
Yet those boys from Wagga and Surry Hills – and from Christchurch and Te Awamutu – fought with extraordinary courage and tenacity, in the most appalling conditions and in the face of forbidding terrain and an equally brave and determined adversary. 10,000 of them were killed. 24,000 more were wounded.
Other nations too, suffered terrible losses – Britain, France, India, Canada and of course Turkey, whose soldiers fought with such courage to defend their homeland. Together more than 130,000 young lives perished and over 260,000 were wounded in the space of less than a year.
Many saw this tragedy as representing the coming of age of our young countries. The Australian poet Banjo Paterson, moved by news reports that were coming back from Gallipoli, wrote this verse in his 1915 poem "We're All Australians Now":
The mettle that a race can show
Is proved with shot and steel,
And now we know what nations know
And feel what nations feel.
And from the character and bravery shown by these young ANZACs in the face of such terrible circumstances, emerged what has become forged in our national identities as the ANZAC spirit: the qualities of courage, tenacity, resourcefulness, fidelity and mateship.
These qualities have characterised the contributions and sacrifices that the men and women of our armed forces have made in other conflicts.
Today we also honour their courage and sacrifices: in France and Belgium during World War I; during the Second World War in North Africa, Europe, the Pacific and South East Asia – including here in the Philippines, where Australian sailors and airmen fought together with Americans and Filipinos in the campaigns in Leyte and the Lingayen Gulf; and in Korea, Borneo, Vietnam, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Today, many of our nations have peacekeepers deployed around the world, and we also pay tribute to their bravery and sacrifice and remember those who have given their lives in peacekeeping operations. We take pride in the contributions they make to bring peace and security to those countries and peoples still torn by conflict.
I want to thank all of you– Australians, New Zealanders, Filipinos, Turks and others – for joining us this morning. You are part of a great tradition that lives on ninety-five years after Gallipoli; more than a tradition, in fact – a sacred trust: of remembering those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country; of honouring their legacy; and of reflecting on the terrible costs of conflict and war.
Lest we forget.