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NZ Consul General’s 2010 ANZAC Day address, Long Tan

Posted by Vietnam Swans on May 10, 2010

Graham Sims, the NZ Consul General at the 2010 ANZAC Day Dawn Service, Long Tan.

Graham Sims, New Zealand’s Consul General has kindly provided a copy of the address he delivered at the ANZAC Day Dawn Service in Long Tan to the Vietnam Swans. It has been reproduced below.

It is an honor to address you all this morning and to welcome ANZAC Veterans to this special day of remembrance.

Today we gather to mark 95th anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops in a cove on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Those troops faced steep cliffs constant enemy fire and shelling on that day and in the weeks that followed. The odds were against them.

It was a long and costly battle.

It wasn’t until the troops withdrew that the magnitudes of the losses were realized. Australia and New Zealand had lost over 10,000 dead or a quarter of those who had fought.

Given that the entire population of our two countries was only 6 million at that time. That meant one in six hundred of our citizens died, many many more were wounded.

For the most part Australian and New Zealand losses were of young volunteers around 20 years of age who would otherwise have been starting their adult lives on farms or in professions  or industries in our respective countries, some were even younger.

The youngest to die was an Australian farmhand named James Martin, who had told recruiters he was 16, in fact he was only 14 years of age.

In military terms, Gallipoli was a defeat of stupendous proportions. Yet it was also a defining point of major significant for Australia and New Zealand in the years to come.

In part this was because of the shared trauma of the loss of comrades and mates on a scale that could not be forgotten

But it was also the fact that Kiwi’s and Aussies were fighting alongside each other. In a common cause, in indescribably hellish conditions, this common cause set the stage for ANZAC co-operation, collaboration and mate-ship for years to come whether in battle or more broadly.

In the quest for security of our nations, a lot of us here this morning would have been involved either personally or had family members involved in wars or conflicts somewhere in the world in the past. My uncle William Rinkin (an Australian) was based at Camorley Creek in Darwin and served with the RAAF 31st Squadron as a flying officer, engaging the enemy over Timor and New Guinea.

We will all have family stories to remember and tell. But one thing that has stayed with all of us following any engagement involving ANZAC forces is that tremendous spirit.

Founded on the cliffs of a Turkish Peninsula 95 years ago, that spirit has been put to the test. In many countries of the world including where we stand today at the battle of Long Tan, that spirit will be put to the test on many more occasions in the future.

In a world where terrorism is rife and where indiscriminate attacks continue to occur. The spirit of our children will, I am sure, also be tested. It is important that we also recognize the contribution that Australian and New Zealand forces make to world security.

Today their contributions to world peace are no less important than the contributions of past conflicts.

The challenge for us today is to be inspired by the examples of past events on all battlefields and to face the threats to freedom and democracy with the same fortitude.

Gallipoli is a message about young people for young people increasingly in towns and cities of Australia and New Zealand ceremonies such as this one, are being attended by those who hold the future in their hands.

The lessons of history are not without pain but offer a way forward into the new century.

ANZAC men and women who fought for our nations who suffered and who died have set the standard for others to learn from and to emulate.

We stand here this morning with our mates as proud Kiwi’s and Aussies, not to glorify war but to remind ourselves that we value who we are and the freedoms we possess and to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who contributed so much in shaping the identity of our two great nations.

We will remember them.

For Photos of Dawn Service, click .

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