ADDRESS TO DARWIN DAWN SERVICE
DARWIN CENOTAPH, DARWIN
THURSDAY, 25 APRIL 2019
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I acknowledge all our distinguished guests here, and in particular, all the veterans and the men and the women of the ADF here with us.
Thank you for your service and thank you to your families, because those who wait, serve also.
And in acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, I acknowledge all those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who defied prejudice and discrimination to fight for their country.
Today, all over Australia and on foreign fields far from home, we gather to commemorate the courage and the service of every Anzac generation.
At dawn – we remember young men, 104 years ago, bobbing in small boats on the dark sea, murmuring quiet prayers, scribbling letters, thinking of home, knowing in their heart they might never see it again.
And we remember all who have followed them, in the service of Australia.
The tradition we honour today is not built upon grand talk and airy ideas of fame and glory.
Instead in every conflict, Australians have served and fought and died for something more simple and more true.
Love for their home. Loyalty to their mates. Faith in each other.
Seventy-seven years ago, bare metres from here and in the waters behind us - and at Katherine, Broome, Wyndham, Derby – Japanese bombs brought war to Australia.
But in truth, one way or another, the shadow of war had already fallen upon every community in our nation.
The sheer number of young Australians who enlisted, who served, who were wounded or traumatised or killed meant few families were spared and no town was untouched.
We see on this Cenotaph, the names of so many Territorians who have served our nation.
In Europe and Africa, the Pacific and Papua New Guinea, in the high, cold passes of Korea, the jungle dark of Vietnam, the desert sand of Iraq and the steep mountains of Afghanistan.
We see the same toll listed around Australia:
Avenues of honour where every tree stands for a young person lost.
Humble stone monuments on a quiet corner in a country town, with the same surnames carved two or three times, for brothers who never came home.
And yet the true memorial, the most powerful monument to those who served, suffered and died, is all around us.
The greatest legacy of Anzac is the free country we call home.
The peace we live in. The democracy we vote in.
The fact that we can gather here today with family and friends to share a meal and raise a glass beneath a beautiful Territory sky.
We can do these things because of those who served and do serve.
We can live our lives, because of Australians who gave theirs.
And because of those who serve us still, in the uniform of our country.
So today – and every day – we honour the memory of those who shall grow not old.
Together, we salute with respect and gratitude the courage of our veterans.
Together, we pledge to do better and do more to help the new generation home from Afghanistan with the transition to civilian life.
Because those who have fought for our country should never have to fight post-traumatic stress, poverty or homelessness on their own.
And, together, we repeat Australia’s oldest and most solemn promise.
We will remember them. Lest we Forget.