Posted by: Gregoryno6 | April 26, 2010

ANZAC Day speech by Senator John Faulkner, Minister for Defence.

This is a rare event indeed. A post that features a member of the government – with no intention to mock.
This is the speech Sen Faulkner gave yesterday to Australian troops serving in Afghanistan.

Let me begin by welcoming our Coalition and Afghan partners to this morning’s service.

There is no commemoration more important to Australians than ANZAC Day. It is central to our Australian identity. We thank you for joining us.

This day, ANZAC Day, is a day when we remember a very particular event: the landing, at Gallipoli, under heavy fire, of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, on the 25th of April, 1915. Before dawn on that day, the boats carrying the young men of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force grounded on the Turkish beach, and a desperate struggle began.

It was a bloody day for the young soldiers of a fledging nation. So were the days and months that followed. The campaign was mismanaged; the objectives were not achieved; but the courage and the resourcefulness of the men amazed observers, even as their larrikin humour and disrespect for rank dismayed them.

Today, ANZAC Day, is a day when we remember ‘the bloke with the donkey’, as his fellow soldiers called John Simpson, and his encouraging remark to a wounded General: “You’ll be right, digger.” Or sniper Billy Sing telling his spotter not to count his most recent shot in tallying his century – he’d hit an enemy soldier, but not the one he was aiming at.

We remember stories of cricket matches where the Turkish trenches were ‘six’ and of men so determined for a swim that the beach at what is now known as Anzac Cove looked, according to Charles Bean, like Bondi on a summer’s day, only with gunfire and artillery shells.

Those men did not think they were creating a legend, becoming part of the story of Australia. They were not, for the most part, professional soldiers, but farmers, shop-keepers, jackaroos, and miners. They were drawn from every walk of life. Some were born in Australia, but as has always been the case in our country’s history, many had travelled to Australia to build a new life somewhere that offered more opportunity and less restriction than their country of birth.

They were all Australian. They went on being Australian in the shot and shell of the trenches, and in doing so they told their country and the world about the defining characteristics of the people of this newly-created nation: that they were quicker with a dry joke than a salute; that their loyalty to their mates was only strengthened by the worst of war’s hardships and dangers; that their bravery and determination were the equal of any soldiers in the world.

We remember them today, but this is not just their day. They were among the first, as you are the most recent, to put their lives in the service of Australia’s interests.

The sacrifices you, and your families and loved ones, have made in the service of Australia, are many. I am, and the Government is, very much aware of the dangers you face, the hardships, and the long separations. On behalf of the Australian Government, I thank you, as I know the Australian people thank you, this generation’s heirs of the ANZAC tradition, for your service and your dedication.

That dedication to Australia is matched by Australia’s pride in you.

Like many before you, you are serving a long way from home. But the world we live in today does not let Australia depend on distance and isolation for protection. Our national security is intertwined with the security of others, and the safety of Australians at home rests on the work you do here, against the Taliban insurgency, helping the Afghans build a country that will stand against terrorism rather than providing a safe-haven for terrorists.

You have done a magnificent job. You have done Australia proud. You have proved once again that the ANZAC tradition is not an old and dusty legend, but the common thread that runs from Gallipoli to Tarin Kowt, via the fields of France, the jungles of New Guinea, via Burma and Timor, Korea and Vietnam.

It is the thread of men and women such as yourselves stepping forward to accept the risk and bear the responsibility for our nation’s security, upholding the best traditions of Australia even in the worst of circumstances.

Today, Anzac Day, belongs to you, to you, and all your colleagues and predecessors:

Those who fell, and let me especially remember those Australians who have paid the supreme sacrifice supporting our efforts here in Afghanistan;

Those who returned, some bearing the terrible scars of wartime wounds and wartime experiences;

And those, like you, who serve today.

Our debt to them, and to you, is immense.

Well said, Senator. And thanks again to Vexnews.


Responses

  1. Indeed, a very stirring speech!

  2. Reading it is one thing, imagine hearing such poignant and heartfelt words so far from Australian shores. As Mel says, very stirring.

  3. Anzac day seems to mean more to me each year. Even more so now. One of my boys has a meeting tomorrow with the ADF.

    • We wish him all the best. Which branch of the forces?

  4. Army. Going through the first round now. Feeling a bit emotional at the moment…not him…me!

    • I can imagine. I remember MY mother’s state the day I left Melbourne.

  5. Dads not feeling too good either. We know of 3 others that have finished their basic training at Wagga. They’re in their 20’s. They were gone for months before they could get home. That’s going to be a huge adjustment that all the family are going to have to make. Might be clocking up some miles traveling south. ….and that’s only the beginning

    • 9 out of 10 Army officers recently surveyed admitted that they considered young recruits’ mothers more dangerous to their well-being than terrorists.
      The tenth said his mother was listening from the next room and hung up.

  6. haha…I’d believe that


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