Speech

Address By

Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO

Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

ON THE OCCASION OF

Anzac Day Gallipoli Dawn Service

Gallipoli Peninsula

25 April 2010

Men and women, young people, from across the world
Distinguished guests

There is no greater honour for me to speak, for and with Australians and New Zealanders, than here at Gallipoli, on the land in whose warm bosom our sons lie at peace.
This morning, we draw upon our humanity.

We stand for a moment in the boots of the men who fought and died -- on this peninsula -- 95 years ago.

Australian and New Zealand soldiers – our ANZACs – in the company of allied forces, and in the face of their adversaries, the brave, young Turks of the Ottoman Army.

All of them: husbands, fathers, sons, brothers and mates.  

Beloved members of families, and of nations.

Brokers of the friendships we cherish here today: among one another and beyond borders.

In this place, we deliver ourselves to them.

  • We see the rugged and difficult terrain.
  • We feel the threats in its folds.
  • We hear the silence and then the rage.
  • We smell the sweat, the blood and the fear.

And we are in awe of what they did.

Today, we recommit to our memory, the lives of New Zealanders and Australians, lost and broken here at Gallipoli. 

We observe their example in the hundreds of thousands of Australian and New Zealand military personnel – men and women – who have served since, and who are serving now;

In particular, our thoughts are with our New Zealand friends mourning the loss of military personnel in the helicopter tragedy this morning;

We honour service in past and present conflicts,  peacekeeping, and community rebuilding operations.

We add to the contingent: wives, mothers, daughters and sisters.

Beloved members of families, and of nations.

We reaffirm their place in our separate and shared stories.
And, as we do so, we endeavour to find in ourselves a greater understanding, a more compassionate care, and a heightened wisdom, that will help us to anchor our past, guide our future, and see the present more clearly and more honestly.

We have learnt a great deal in the near century that has passed.

The valour in a good cause, the courage, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship and endurance will always remain in our spirit and our vernacular.  

But with those qualities, we have acquired a maturity, a candour and generosity in how we think and talk and write about war.

Document boxes are unlocked.

Ageing papers are thumbed and studied. Pressed flowers fall from diaries.
Letters are read, and are wept and smiled upon.
Questions are asked.
Stories are told: reluctantly, painfully, and joyously.

We are coming to liberate our deep knowing, so that it may no longer weigh formidable and helpless in our hearts.

We have seen the value of openness in healing, learning, and validating the experiences of so many affected and torn by the workings of war.

The servicemen and women. Those in combat; those imprisoned; those who nursed and transported and administered them. Those who stayed behind to sustain our nations.  The loved ones they found, and those they were separated from. The children they had, and then farewelled.  The parents they never saw again. The homes they returned to.

The isolation, confusion, melancholy, relief and pride they each felt in their own profound ways.

Through talking, writing, poetry, photographs, art and eulogy we are capturing these stories, making sense of them, and coming to fear them less and use them well.

Friends, I speak to you this morning as Australia’s first woman Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Defence Forces.

I speak to you – as I do to our troops, sailors and pilots — all of our people – as a mother and grandmother, and ordinary Australian.

Anzac Day is all the things I have spoken of, but, at its heart, is love.
Love of every kind

Love of nation,
    of service,
    of family.

The love we give and the love we allow ourselves to receive.

To use some words that many of us know:

It is the love that is patient and kind, not jealous or arrogant.   
It rejoices in the truth.   
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

And it never fails.

This is what gives meaning to human triumph and defeat.   
This is what enables us to forgive, and to learn from our successes and our failures.

It reminds us of why we must never let go of Anzac Day.

This is a day about remembrance, deference and thankfulness.   
It is about who we are now; the values we live by and hold dearest; and what we collectively hope and strive to be.

Today is a day for all of us.   

Beloved members of families, and of nations in our memories, in our arms, and in our dreams.

Lest we forget.