Welcome Remarks by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Special Film Screening of “Gallipoli”
Centenary of Anzac
21 April 2015
Thank you very much, everyone, for coming.
I’d like especially to acknowledge the presence of my New Zealand colleague, His Excellency David Strachan, and
Undersecretary Evan Garcia, Department of Foreign Affairs,
Undersecretary Jose Luis Alano, Executive Director National Coast Watch Center,
Major General Donato San Juan, Commander, Special Operations Command, Philippine Army, and
Commodore Narciso Vingson Jr, Sea Lift Amphibious Force, Philippine Navy
The movie you are about to see is not so much a story of war, as it is a story of identity and mateship.
The Australian director of the film, Peter Weir, has made a number of well-known Hollywood movies including The Dead Poets Society and The Truman Show.
This film, Gallipoli, was inspired by Peter Weir’s visit to the Gallipoli area in 1975. He spent two days climbing the slopes and wandering around the trenches of Gallipoli. Amazingly, he found scraps left by the armies: buttons and bits of old leather and belts. He said he felt like he was touching history and, like many people who have subsequently made the pilgrimage to the site, as my family and I have, it altered his perception of the place. It was then and there that he decided to make this film.
The Gallipoli campaign of 1915, which provides the historical background for this film, is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness for two fledgling nations – Australia and New Zealand.
The Gallipoli campaign was hardly a victory. But it was a defining moment. The enlisted men in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, or ANZACs, who fought together on the Gallipoli Peninsula, against overwhelming odds and against a resolute and formidable enemy, exhibited the qualities of courage, endurance, tenacity, resilience, selflessness and mateship.
These first Anzacs left a strong and enduring legacy and helped forge our national identity and define our national character.
In the same way, we reflect on the courage and sacrifice of the heroes of the Fall of Bataan and the subsequent Death March in World War Two.
The commemoration period of the Centenary of Anzac offers an opportunity to reflect on our collective military history, which for Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines provides important elements of the foundation for our culture, ethos, values and traditions.
This Saturday, 25 April 2015, marks 100 years since the original Gallipoli landing. And in commemorating its centenary we pay tribute not only to the original ANZACS, but the 100 years of service by Australian and New Zealand servicemen and women during times of conflict, peacekeeping operations, and disaster response.
I am reminded of the memorial marker I unveiled in Palo, Leyte last 19 October, dedicated to the more than 4,000 Australian servicemen who fought for the Liberation of the Philippines, including 92 who were not able to return home.
And on Thursday [23 April], a memorial marker will be placed on Bataan Peninsula, dedicated to the nine crew of a Royal Australian Air Force Catalina aircraft that disappeared over Manila Bay 70 years ago during World War Two. Family members of the crew have travelled to the Philippines to attend the ceremony.
We remember our servicemen and women, not to glorify war but to acknowledge their contribution to our nation and to remind us of the cost of freedom and peace.
I now invite you once again to join the first Anzacs in their story: the journey called Gallipoli.
Lest We Forget.