Anzac Day: We will remember

Focus, Normal

The National, Tuesday 23rd April 2013


AUSTRALIAN Prime Minister Julia Gillard paid tribute to “the men who came from the ends of the earth to fight a far off war” in her address at the Anzac Cove dawn service at Gallipoli on Anzac Day (April 25) last year.

In a speech just before dawn at Gallipoli, Gillard also praised the people of Turkey for protecting the hallowed land.

The PM told several thousand people crowded into the narrow peninsula for the dawn service they were standing on the site “where our national identity was forged in 1915”.

“We remember what the Anzacs did in war and for what they did to shape our nation in peace,” Gillard said.

“In this place, they taught us to regard Australia and nowhere else as home.”

The 8700 Australian men who died on these shores may have being fighting for our British allies, but they “longed for the shape and scent of the gum leaf and the wattle, not the rose or the elm, Gillard said.

In her short speech before the sun rose over the cliffs surrounding the site, Gillard said the Anzac legend and the freedom it represented “belongs to every Australian”.

“Not just those who trace their origins to the early settlers but those like me who are migrants and who freely embrace the whole of the Australian story as their own,” she said.

“For indigenous Australians, whose own wartime valour was a profound expression of the love they felt for the ancient land.”

“And for Turkish-Australians who have not one but two heroic stories to tell their children.”

Gillard said Australians owed Turkey a debt of gratitude for honouring their wartime sacrifice and caring for the site.

And she urged the crowd to also remember the large loss of Turkish lives among the 130,000 killed in the battle.

“No nation could have better guarded our shrines or more generously welcomed our pilgrims,” she said.

“A worthy foe has proved to be an even greater friend.

“Through Turkey’s hospitality, we do today what those who left these shores most dearly hoped: We come back.

“As we will always come back.”

The service followed several dawn commemorations across Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands such as Papua New Guinea,  Tonga and Samoa to commemorate those who served in the World Wars.

In PNG 3800 Australians, British and Papua New Guineans lie in the graves at the Bomana War Cemetery.

There are no surviving WWI diggers. However about 20,000 ex-servicemen took part in the Anzac Day march in their honour.

Ten-year-old Hayley Pitt did not have to question why she was woken up at 2am to travel into the middle of the Brisbane CBD with her family.

“Because they died for our free country,” she said as she stood in Brisbane’s Anzac Square waiting for the sun to rise and the bugles to start the procession.

The schoolgirl was one of thousands who crammed the small grass square nestled in between high rise office building in the morning to pay her respects to the fallen diggers during Brisbane’s dawn service.

Her great-grandfather served in Papua New Guinea in World War II and it was for him that her entire family made the sojourn from Redlands Bay for the ceremony, Hayley’s grandfather Harry Jarman said.

“I think it’s important to remember what soldiers went through during the war,” Jarman said.

“It only takes a couple of hours on Anzac Day to come in and appreciate what they did.”

In Papua New Guinea locals and Australians converged at the dawn service at the Bomana War Cemetery where Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was among those who laid a wreath at the memorial.

Across the Tasman a bomb threat failed to disrupt the dawn service in Auckland. After a search of the area by police, the event proceeded without incident.

In Melbourne hundreds of people  huddled in the dark and cold at the city’s Shrine of Remembrance ahead of the dawn Anzac service.

More than 45,000 gathered for the traditional 6am service, which marked the 97th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing.

Both serving and ex-servicemen and women were among the crowd.

Overnight showers cleared in the Tasmanian capital Hobart and a crowd of around 5000 was expected for the service.

Cadets from South Australia’s emergency services and other volunteer groups ended their overnight vigil as a big crowd gathered around Adelaide’s War Memorial for the dawn service.

The cadets kept watch over the memorial for 12 hours in what has become annual event in Adelaide for the past 13 years.

They stood down just before South Australian Governor Kevin Scarce arrived to mark the official start of the ceremony.

Australian War Memorial senior curator Nick Fletcher said the service appeared to be a very good turnout, although it was hard to tell in the dark.

“But you would think we could push the 20,000 figure,” he said.

“But as we get closer to the 100th (anniversary) we are going to get more.

“You can be sure that there will be plenty of discussion between now and then about the appropriate way to commemorate the centenary.”


Steven Scott travelled to Gallipoli to cover the rememberance day there for the News Ltd newspapers and Australian news agency AAP.