Published: Wed 10 Apr 2013

Director of the Australian War Memorial, Dr Brendan Nelson, is encouraging veterans of recent conflicts and their families to participate in ANZAC Day. It is a day we remember the sacrifices of not only past Australian servicemen and women, but also those of the present.

“ANZAC Day is Australia’s most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in April 1915. But we must also ensure that this anniversary encourages all Australians to reflect upon the ongoing sacrifices that brave Australian men and women continue to make on our behalf.”

“It is increasingly important as Australia begins to draw down from Afghanistan, that the stories and the experiences of our current day veterans, many of whom are still serving, is part of the national consciousness. So too, those who served in Iraq, East Timor and the Solomon Islands must be honoured. As the Australian War Memorial is the national site of commemoration, it will take the lead in ensuring that their extraordinary efforts are recognised”, said Dr Nelson.

Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG will join the march at the Memorial as part of the National Service. In doing so he is encouraging all veterans of contemporary conflicts to join him and others along with those from Vietnam, Korea and the Second World War, amongst others.

"It is vital, with the war in Afghanistan drawing down, that contemporary veterans and their families understand they have the support of the wider community and organisations like the Memorial and the RSL”, said Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG. “We as veterans need to get behind these institutions and always remain proud of what we have achieved for our country. As it was passed to us, we now have a responsibility to ensure the ANZAC spirit is passed to the next generation.”

The expanded focus to current veterans is part of a number of changes the Memorial’s new Director has initiated for ANZAC Day this year.

“It is important to ensure ANZAC Day continues to be relevant for a new generation of Australians and Australians recently arrived. I want people of all ages and backgrounds who visit the Memorial on ANZAC Day to feel a meaningful connection to the institution and what it represents: the soul of the nation.”

“Those who attend the ANZAC Day ceremonies at the Memorial, will have a moving, emotional and educational experience”, said Dr Nelson.

ANZAC Day at the Australian War Memorial will begin from midnight with images projected onto the Memorial building: photographs of Australian servicemen and women, accompanied by the names of iconic battlefields from over a century of conflict. More than 150 images, drawn from the Memorial’s rich photographic collection, will depict the faces of those who have experienced the realities of war. The names of battlefields, from the Boer War through to Gallipoli to the Chora Valley, across land, sea and air, will represent the breadth of Australian wartime experience.

From 4.30 am Leith Arundel, a local Canberra actor, will read excerpts from letters and diaries of Australians who experienced firsthand war in all its facets. At 5.00 am, Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG will read emotive accounts of Australian service in Afghanistan. Then from 5.15 am, all will be quiet before the Dawn Service commences in darkness at 5.30 am.
At 6.30 am, following the Dawn Service, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans and Services Association will be hosting the ANZAC Day Indigenous Commemoration ceremony at the Indigenous Memorial on Mt Ainslie. This ceremony commemorates those Indigenous Australians who have served in the Australian Defence Force.  

The National Ceremony, including the ANZAC Day veterans’ march, will begin at 10.15 am. The march will be led by the Royal Australian Army Chaplains, commemorating 100 years of service.
This year, Dr Brendan Nelson will also deliver the commemorative address.

Three military vehicles – two Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAVs) and a Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicle – manned by serving personnel, will drive onto the Parade Ground as a reminder of Australia’s ongoing involvement in present day conflicts. This will occur at the end of the march. These vehicles have saved many Australian lives in recent years and have great meaning to veterans of recent conflicts.

For a number of years the Memorial has conducted a simple closing ceremony every afternoon. This has now been significantly enhanced and renamed, ‘The Last Post’ ceremony.

On ANZAC Day – and every day at 4.50 pm, the National Anthem will be sung, the Last Post will be played, and the ode will be recited following a reading of the story of one of the names from the Roll of Honour. On ANZAC Day we will feature Major Blair Swannell of the 1st Battalion, 1st AIF, who died in action on 25 April 1915, the first day of the Gallipoli campaign. Swannell is just one of the more than 102,000 Australians whose names are recorded on the Memorial’s Roll of Honour. This ceremony will be broadcast live on the Memorial’s website.

Following both the Dawn Service and National Ceremony, people will be encouraged to place a poppy on the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier or on the Roll of Honour.

The ANZAC Day Dawn Service and National Ceremony are presented by the Memorial in partnership with the Returned and Services League (ACT).

CONTACT DETAILS

Tom Vasey        (02) 6243 4575    0409 600 038         media@awm.gov.au
Marylou Pooley     (02) 6243 4383    0412 646 298
Moj Nozhat        (02) 6263 6627

 

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