ANZAC DAY SPEECH2010410201711 by lindayy


ANZAC DAY SPEECH2010410201711

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									                   ANZAC DAY SPEECH

Each year with the leadership of the very Reverend Father Steven Scoutas,
St Spyridon Church holds a special ANZAC Day commemoration, in its role as
a War Memorial church.

Together with the University of New South Wales Army Regiment, the St.
Spyridon Parish invites us to remember, and to honour the ANZACs. We
thank the men and women of the Army regiment for their presence and
participation in this solemn ceremony. The ANZAC soldier is synonymous
with what it means to be brave, to be loyal, to be strong, faithful and
resilient. The conduct of its soldiers at a critical time in human history,
gave Australia its distinctive character as a nation. A character that reflects
what is best in young people across time and place.

When war broke out in 1914 Australia had been a federal commonwealth for
only 14 years; and yet at the end of the World War 1 Australia and
Australians became identified in the minds of people across the globe, with
everything that is good and honorable. In our travels in the Middle East and
Southern Europe, the news that my husband was from Australia, was
greeted with warmth and affection, particularly by the older people who
had met Australian soldiers in their youth.

So who were these young men? Where did come from? How did they come to
inspire a whole nation and to invoke in us today a blend of pride and sorrow
when we remember them?

Well, they were very much like the young men in this very Church.
Optimistic and confident; Full of hopes and aspirations; with a strong sense
of what means to be true friend, to be fair and just.

The thing that strikes a traveler in Australia, from Adelaide to Perth; from
the isolated homesteads in the outback, to Alice Springs; from the smallest

settlements in the red heartland to Darwin; from Cairns to Sydney; from
Sydney to Victoria is that no place is too small to have an ANZAC memorial.

Men and boys from across Australia teemed to the Cities to enlist for the
Great War, answering the call to arms, for King and country. In their
enthusiasm some of them lied about their ages so that they would not miss
out on the Great Struggle- the war to end all wars. For some, the trip to the
city was the first time they had ever left the outback; the first time they
ever got on a train; the first time they ever set foot in city.

One can only guess at how they felt when they boarded the ships to places
they may have seen only on black and white maps. No internet connection
for them, no “whereis” and little access to visual images of the places for
which they were destined; places with exotic names–Pozieres Tripoli,
Gallipoli, Tobruck, Verdun, the Somme. It must have all seemed like a
great, heroic adventure.

Certainly nothing in their lives at home could have prepared them for
awaited them. We do not even want to imagine the horrors they must have
faced; fear and homesickness, disease, ever-present danger and death. And
yet they fought like lions, they stuck by their friends and did their duty with
a spirit that transcended those appalling events. Their own letters home
typically played down the worst aspects of their experience, putting a brave
face on everything. One soldier wrote back home:

“ I knew I was not much hurt, for in the field we say a man is hurt when
he's got a leg or two missing, or the side of his head off, whereas I'll be
back again, I hope, before long.”

It is from the nurses’ letters that we get the clearer picture of the realities
of the battle front. Ella Tucker and Lydia King were nurses on the ships
taking the wounded from Gallipoli to the Greek Islands of Imvros and Lemnos.
They write:

Every night there are two or three deaths, sometimes five or six; … each night
is a nightmare, the patients’ faces all look so pale with the flickering ship’s

I shall never forget the feeling of hopelessness on night duty. It was dreadful.
Shall not describe their wounds, they were too awful. One loses sight of all the
honour and the glory in the work we are doing.

60,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders died during that war. In the
words of Charles Bean:

They were men their countries could ill afford to lose. But with their lives
they purchased a tradition beyond all human power to appraise, and set for
all time the standard of conduct for the Australian and New Zealand soldier.

We are here today neither to glorify war nor to pass judgment on those with
the daunting responsibility to make the ultimate decisions on such matters.
If the study of history teaches us anything, it is that it is easy to condemn
the past, but difficult to learn from it. We know-after the event- that the
end of the Great War did not end all wars. The first war was followed by the
second, and then many others, in the Middle East, across Africa, in Latin
and South America, the war in Vietnam, in Eastern Europe, in Afganistan, in
Iraq, and so on. We pray for the safe return of our Australian soldiers who
are in active service across the globe.

And now that all the soldiers who survived the first world war have passed
away, and just a few of the soldiers from the second world war are still with
us, I think it is time to pay tribute to those who returned from those
conflicts, as much as those who did not.

If any generation had reason to be cynical, bitter and resentful, it would
have been theirs. They had every excuse to become a burden on their loved
ones and a drain on their country’s resources. But having survived the war,

they refused to be defeated by life. Many took the trauma and devastation
they had witnessed to their graves; choosing to bury these deep inside their
hearts. In this way they sought to heal themselves and to spare their loved
ones those dreadful things they had lived through. My father in law, served
in Borneo and was awarded a medal as a crack sharpshooter, but he never
spoke to his seven children or his wife about the war.

The ANZACs came back determined to rebuild their families, their
communities and their nation. And they did. With the help of their women,
they did much more than survive. The same determination, integrity and
bravery that had sustained them in war, made them heroes in a time of

As a generation I wonder how they would respond to us, to our addiction to
self pity and self indulgent emotionalism; to the postmodern impulse to
jump in front of the camera at every opportunity and make an exhibition of
our feelings in front of the whole world.

It seems to me that our responsibility to the returned soldiers is twofold-
first to remember them and second to honour their memory by emulating
their strength and stoicism in a time of war as well as in a time of peace;
and to approach life’s challenges with restraint and good humour.

St. Spyridon College students and their families have shown that they do the
first by their presence here today. In developing their Student Principles,
they reflect their firm intention to do the second.

Principle 3 reads:
We (the Students of St. Spyridon College), work together to achieve a
school community whose distinguishing characteristics are those of
friendship, compassion and decency.

Principle 7:
We believe in the sacredness of human life and the dignity of every human

And Principle 9:
We respond to the difficulties of life with patience, dignity and faith,
never fearing to start again.

I would like to thank Father Steven and the Parish Committee for initiating
the first Australian school trip to Gallipoli as part of the St. Spyridon Parish
trip. As Head of St Spyridon College, I promise to keep alive the spirit of the
ANZACs in our school, always trusting in the inherent integrity of young
people to do what is right and what is good for themselves, their families
and their country.


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