Iraq Commitment Part Of A Great Tradition: Howard

This is the transcript of the address by the Prime Minister, John Howard, at the Anzac Day Parade in Canberra.

John HowardAs Australians, both here in Canberra and elsewhere in our nation and around the world, gather to give thanks and to express their enduring gratitude to the more than 102,000 Australians who laid down their lives to defend this country, its values and our freedom. And as we also collectively honour the men and women who came back, who also put their lives on the line, we take pause for a moment to reflect upon the extraordinary hold that this great day, this great tradition borne on the 25th of April 1915 and which has shaped the character and the destiny of this country more than any other tradition or influence, we reflect upon the enormous hold it continues to have on our nation.

And I think as all of us marvel at the way in which the young of Australia in increasing numbers embrace the Anzac traditions. And we ask ourselves why is it that this great tradition has strengthened and cemented its hold on the affections and the emotions of the Australian people. It is not, as is rightly said on every Anzac Day, about the glorification of war. It is about the celebration of some wonderful values, of courage, of valour, of mateship, of decency, of a willingness as a nation to do the right thing, whatever the cost. And as today we rightly mourn the loss of so many young people we reflect upon their lives cut short, we give thanks to them and to all of those who came back, for what they did for us. And particularly on this day do we think of those young men and women on duty for the Australian Defence Forces in other parts of the world. And especially we give thanks for the safety of those who’ve recently taken part in the war in Iraq.

They went in our name in a just cause to do good things to liberate a people. They are part of a great tradition of honourable service by the Australian military forces. On this day rightly reflect upon what Anzac means to us. We reflect upon the values that it has instilled in all generations of Australians and I believe as a nation we collectively rejoice in the growing embrace of that great tradition. It’s an honourable one of which every man and woman in this nation can be justly proud.

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