Memorial Service for the Fallen of the Gallipoli Campaign, East Mudros Military Cemetery, Lemnos
It is a privilege for Linda and me to be able to participate in this solemn but important occasion for the people of our two nations and for all the fallen of the Gallipoli Campaign.
On this day and at this Memorial Service we remember and honour the 148 Australian servicemen buried here in the East Mudros and the Portianos Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries, and the Australian nurses and troops who served here during the First World War.
And we acknowledge the commitment of the Lemnian people each year to honouring and preserving their memory.
We reflect on the lives lost and the sacrifices made by all sides of that terrible conflict.
For Australians, Anzac Day is hugely significant. It is a day when we stop to remember and look back.
Throughout my career but particularly in recent years as Governor-General, I have been asked a simple question, ‘What does Anzac Day mean for you?’
In looking back on our shared history, we learn much about who we are today and, I believe, can take inspiration for who we aspire to be.
Today’s commemoration and what is being built here in Lemnos offers a similar opportunity.
For me, Anzac Day evokes memories of loss and re-awakens hidden emotions.
Endurance, courage, sacrifice, mateship — they are the characteristics we attribute to the Anzac legacy.
Those characteristics were on full display in Lemnos and on hospital ships off the coast during the Gallipoli Campaign.
Australian doctors, nurses and servicemen — who, in answering the call of a still-young nation to support the war effort, demonstrated remarkable endurance, courage, sacrifice and mateship. Indeed, my wife Linda’s great uncle was a beneficiary of that care, having passed through Mudros when illness forced his evacuation from Gallipoli.
The characteristics can also be seen in the people of Greece and Lemnos who supported and provided refuge to the Australian and allied troops and who continued to remember them in the decades that followed.
We see the legacy and those characteristics reflected in the strong and warm relationship that exists today between Australia and Greece.
The Anzac legacy was not, however, etched in stone in 1915.
It transcends military traditions and culture and is, as I say, reflected in who we are today and who we aspire to be.
Today, our two countries have shared interests in relation to international peace and security, multilateralism, democratic values and strong democratic beliefs.
Today’s memorial service is a call to us to thank those earlier generations for their sacrifice.
It is also, like Anzac Day, a moment to reflect on the strengths and qualities of our service men and women and the legacy that was created in this part of the world more than 100 years ago and which echoes through our community and national identity to this day.
It is my hope that a great many Australians and Greeks follow in our footsteps in years to come — coming here to Lemnos to look back, to learn and to take inspiration.
It is poignant for Linda and me to be in Lemnos for this Memorial Service, a place so inextricably linked to the Gallipoli Campaign and to Anzac Day.
We feel deeply the service and the sacrifice of our soldiers 108 years ago.
And we are enormously grateful to the Lemnian people — those who opened their hearts during the First World War and provided a haven for wounded and sick allied soldiers and supported our doctors and nurses, and the current generation — who continue to keep their memory alive.
Lest we forget.