Australia — Minister for Defence Stephen Smith ANZAC Day speech — 25 April 2011

We gath­er at this hour, and on this day, to remem­ber the ANZACs who land­ed at Gal­lipoli and who land­ed in history’s page on 25 April 1915 and who bequeathed to us this day’s name.
We remem­ber the ter­ri­ble loss that they and Aus­tralia suf­fered.

We com­mem­o­rate Gallipoli’s great and endur­ing sig­nif­i­cance for our peo­ple and our nation.

We gath­er too to remem­ber all those Aus­tralian men and women who have served and died in wars and con­flicts, on peace­keep­ing duties, in dis­as­ter relief and on human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance mis­sions.

There is an unbro­ken lin­eage from those who land­ed at Gal­lipoli to you, some of the 3000 young Aus­tralian men and women who cur­rent­ly serve our nation­al inter­est on oper­a­tions over­seas.

You have cho­sen as your stan­dard the glo­ri­ous achieve­ments of the orig­i­nal ANZACs. Your dis­tin­guished ser­vice here in Afghanistan will make you a stan­dard bear­er for those who fol­low.

Yours is a noble call­ing.

You are asked to gal­lant­ly and self­less­ly tread the rough and uncom­pro­mis­ing path of duty and sac­ri­fice and to do so with com­pas­sion for those to whom we extend the hand of friend­ship.

We remem­ber today that 23 young Aus­tralians have fall­en here in Afghanistan. We hon­our their mem­o­ry. They were and remain our mates.

We remem­ber that half of them have fall­en in the short time since ANZAC Day 2009.

Our thoughts are with their loved ones back home today.

Those men, like the first ANZACs, and like you, came from the broad sweep of Aus­tralian soci­ety.

Like the first ANZACs, and like you, they vol­un­teered to serve in Australia’s uni­form, and to defend our nation and the val­ues we hold dear.

And like you and the many who have served, they took on tough, dan­ger­ous, vital work, far from home.

Your work here, in Uruz­gan Province, is sure­ly tough and dan­ger­ous.

The award of the Vic­to­ria Cross twice in Afghanistan, for the first time since 1969, is a mea­sure of the test you face.

It is also a mea­sure of your deter­mi­na­tion.

Your work is mak­ing a real dif­fer­ence on the ground.

Your work has seen you and Afghan forces extend secu­ri­ty to areas pre­vi­ous­ly con­trolled by the Tal­iban – from the Tarin Kot bowl to the Mirabad val­ley in the east, Deh Rawud in the west, and north through the Baluchi val­ley into Cho­ra.

Togeth­er you are cov­er­ing more ground, extend­ing the reach of the Afghan gov­ern­ment through­out the province.

But we must expect the Tal­iban to fight back.

The com­ing sum­mer will be tough.

We can expect our adver­saries to strike against coali­tion forces and civil­ians alike.

As we pre­pare for it we are mind­ful of the human toll of the fight.

Among the Afghans, among oth­er nations, and at home, you are high­ly respect­ed for your efforts and your results.

In the tra­di­tion of Aus­tralians serv­ing around the world, you are known for your regard for the local Afghan peo­ple, among whom you work and live.

Equal­ly, you are known for your pro­fes­sion­al­ism and brav­ery against a deter­mined adver­sary.

These are qual­i­ties shared by Aus­tralians when­ev­er and wher­ev­er they have served.

These are qual­i­ties and prin­ci­ples Air Chief Mar­shal Hous­ton has embod­ied through­out his 41 years ser­vice to the nation.

This is the CDF’s last ANZAC Day in uni­form – a uni­form adorned with an Air Force Cross, award­ed for his skill and dar­ing as a heli­copter pilot.

We thank him for his lead­er­ship and his excep­tion­al ser­vice to our nation.

Today as well qui­et pride is mixed with the trag­ic sense of loss at lives cut so cru­el­ly short.

Qui­et pride in the fierce inde­pen­dence of the Dig­gers, in their unfail­ing loy­al­ty to their mates through good times and bad.

Qui­et pride in a lega­cy which under­pins what we aspire to as a nation and a peo­ple.

The sac­ri­fice that we hon­our today helped forge our nation­al iden­ti­ty, helped forge our nat­ur­al char­ac­ter­is­tics and helped set our nation­al val­ues and virtues.

A nation egal­i­tar­i­an in spir­it and inde­pen­dent by nature.

A belief in a “fair go” for all and in not leav­ing the weak or vul­ner­a­ble behind.

Opti­mism about what can be achieved by inge­nu­ity and by work­ing togeth­er.

Defi­ance against the odds and find­ing strength in a sense of humour in adver­si­ty.

Gal­lipoli now embod­ies these char­ac­ter­is­tics in an endur­ing way.

It is an indeli­ble part of our his­to­ry and a con­tin­u­ing inspi­ra­tion for our future as we join in ongo­ing respect and grat­i­tude for the fall­en.

Lest We For­get.

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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