Anzac Day 2012: National Ceremony commemorative address
Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As the first Anzacs waded ashore at Anzac Cove 97 years ago today, none of them could have imagined the legacy they would create for their newly independent nation.
From the grinding hardships and terrible sacrifices of the Gallipoli campaign emerged a distinctly Australian identity - one which recognised the importance of sticking by your mates, overcoming great adversity and getting the job done.
In August 1915, Private H.V.Reynolds who was at Gallipoli wrote in his diary that: "the average Australian will stand up to his job and see it through, or go down in the attempt, and it is humanly impossible to do more."
Almost a century has passed since Private Reynolds penned those words, but the ethos that developed in the trenches of Gallipoli and the Western Front has sustained and inspired those who have worn the Australian uniform and served with distinction in so many campaigns - Europe and the Pacific, Korea, Vietnam, United Nations deployments and current global operations.
Anzac Day is a time for all Australians to reflect on almost 100 years of service and sacrifice, and to remember those who are currently serving.
Today the Australian spirit of courage, teamwork, perseverance against adversity, fairness and compassion continues to be demonstrated by our sailors, soldiers and airmen and women on deployments around the world.
More than 3,300 Australian Defence Force members are on operations today, including in East Timor, the Solomon Islands, South Sudan and many locations across the Middle East. As I speak, many of them are preparing for their own Dawn Services – a time to quietly contemplate the legacy of those who went before them over the last century, and those who never returned to their families and friends.
For some deployed members, there will be little opportunity to pause right now. They will continue with essential operational tasks, the work that must be done. They may be in overwatch positions protecting their colleagues, airlifting essential supplies, patrolling our oceans, or just preparing for their next mission. In their own time, when the job is finished, they too will take a moment to reflect.
The qualities demonstrated by the original Anzacs and carried forward by generations of ADF members are not simply military related. These qualities are Australian values – because, after all, our men and women in uniform are drawn from the Australian community and reflect what our society holds true.
Many who are attending services around Australia today have not served in the ADF or perhaps don't even know anyone in uniform – I believe Anzac Day continues to draw large crowds because the community can relate to the values displayed by our military, past and present, and because they recognise that the sacrifices of all involved in war have underpinned the stable, successful and modern nation that is Australia today.
This is particularly important as Australia prepares to recognise the Anzac centenary from 2014 to 2018. The centenary will aim to commemorate our enduring Anzac legacy – with the program running in tandem with local community events.
This program will build on the already close bond between the ADF and the Australian community. A bond that grows stronger when the ADF is asked to assist in times of crisis. In these trying times, the arrival of Defence personnel has been a source of reassurance during floods, bush fires and cyclones.
Courage, teamwork, perseverance against adversity, fairness and compassion: these are qualities that the Australian community and the ADF share.
No matter where they are. No matter what the challenge. Our servicemen and women continue to honour the Anzac spirit and do their nation proud by meeting these values every day.
Lest we forget.