Today, as we have done for over one hundred years, our nation stops to mark the anniversary of Gallipoli.
Across this country, people from all ages, races and backgrounds – gather, as we gather
Paying tribute to the spirit of the ANZACs.
Today we remember those who have served and sacrificed, earning the freedoms we enjoy today.
This is the legacy that they have passed on to us – and that we must pass on to those who come after us.
When I was in high school – not all that long ago – I remember many people were predicting the demise of the ANZAC legacy.
They said Australia’s record of fighting wars in the far-flung reaches of the world no longer resonated with our nation.
The passing of the last ANZAC Alec Campbell in 2002 and our last enlisted man from World War 1 John ‘Jack’ Ross in 2009 severed the physical link to the start of the tradition.
Last weekend I read there are now only about 20,000 veterans from World War II alive and their average age is 94. The Vietnam War finished more than 40 years ago. Time marches relentlessly on.
Yet today is evidence that with the passing of time the legacy and ANZAC spirit grows stronger not weaker. Organisers at services such as this, who put in countless hours of work, see the crowds who come to pay their respect grow larger every year.
And even though there are still some who choose to attack the ANZAC tradition on days like this, a new generation of Australians embraces all that today stands for.
For those who have served, ANZAC represents the ideals of mateship, courage and sacrifice.
But for young people, who have not known the horrors of war, ANZAC teaches us three great lessons
Like many young people, my first memory of ANZAC day is holding my grandfather’s hand as we attended an ANZAC dawn service.
The rows of military personnel, the respect towards God and country and the reverent atmosphere of that service have stayed with me ever since.
I have always believed that as a nation we cannot know where we are going unless we appreciate where we have come from.
ANZAC day reminds us.
Gallipoli was a terrible battle over a century ago, far away on foreign shores.
It was a resounding defeat for our brave young men.
Yet it is forever etched into the memory and fabric of our young country.
As the Queensland Premier T J Ryan once wrote:
Gallipoli would always be holy ground … the scene of undying deeds of young Australia’s sons and the last resting place of her noble dead.
We remember today that our young nation has always answered the call to defend freedom and the fundamental values we hold dear.
That we have a proud history of courage, of mateship and of struggle that sets us apart from other nations.
A history to cherish and pass on.
ANZAC day is also about family.
Family is the reason many of us return, year after year, to march, or to attend services like this one.
Each family, and everyone here today, have their own unique story.
My great great Aunt Emma Perrottet exchanged letters with her then husband – Private Bernard James Perrottet – serving in the Great War.
In what would be his last letter to his wife, he wrote:
“If it is God’s will, may our loving hearts be once again linked together, when peace is restored amongst the nations now at war.
If God willed otherwise pray that I will be prepared to meet my fate as a true Christian and soldier should.
And that we will meet in heaven, where we will find happiness.”
Private Bernard James Perrottet was killed in an attack on the Gallipoli Peninsula, leaving behind his wife and baby daughter.
Just as for so many families, his example, his faith, and the courage of his convictions now form part of my own family story.
And part of the very fabric of our national identity.
ANZAC day is also about gratitude.
For younger generations, the sacrifice of the fallen can be difficult to understand.
Most of us here – God willing – will never have to know what it means to give our lives the way more than 100,000 Australians have given their lives in service to this nation.
Today we pledge to put into practice the spirit of sacrifice those heroes lived to the very end.
That means not just living for me, for today, for what I want –
It means living a spirit of joyful, self-giving service to our families, to our friends, and our communities,
And service to our nation
In the small things and the big things – even when it hurts.
For young people today, ANZAC is a call to show our gratitude by really appreciating all our nation offers:
The freedom, the opportunity, the prosperity, the peace.
These gifts have been purchased at a great price – it is up to us to cherish and protect them.
That is our debt to those who fought and died – to carry their flame
And to keep building our nation ever upward with the vigour and generosity with which they laid its foundations.
Lest We Forget.