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Defence Minister Nelson’s Address at the Gallipoli Dawn Service

The Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson, has represented the Australian government at the Dawn Service at Gallipoli, in Turkey.

In his address, Nelson said: “At this hour ninety two years ago, ANZACs were on the cusp of giving our nation its identity and place in the world, not only by what they would do here, but how they would do it.”

  • Listen to Nelson’s Dawn Service Address (6m)

Text of Defence Minister Brendan Nelson’s Address at the Dawn Service at Gallipoli, Turkey.

Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free.

Our anthem is a national epitaph to those whose sacrifice in peace and war, gave us that freedom.

Family epitaphs to the dead, in so few words, say so much – of love, life, loss and us.

Private C.V. Hamilton
23rd Battalion 29.11.1915 (age 20)

(Lone Pine Cemetery)

Private R.J. Oliver
4th Battalion 27.4.1915 (age 18)
(Lone Pine Cemetery)

Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick
3rd Field Ambulance 19.5.1915 (age 22)
(Beach Cemetery)

With awkward humility, we pause here at Gallipoli, free and confident heirs to a legacy born of idealism and forged in self-sacrifice. We do so in renewed commitment to one another, our nation and the ideals of mankind.

At this hour ninety two years ago, ANZACs were on the cusp of giving our nation its identity and place in the world, not only by what they would do here, but how they would do it.

By first day’s end were two thousand Australian and New Zealand casualties.

Courageous New Zealanders gave us that first ANZAC day and forged in bloody sacrifice the bond within which our two nations live.

At its end eight months later, 8,700 Australians would be dead and 19,000 wounded, but with abiding respect for their Turkish adversaries.

Charles Bean’s account of a digger arriving at the front trench before the Australian assault on Lone Pine, says it all:

“Jim here?” he asked.

A voice in the fire step answered, “Right here, Bill.”

“Do you chaps mind shiftin’ up a piece?” said the first voice. “Him and me are mates, and we’re goin’ over together.”

Each of them had only one life – only one chance to use life in a selfless way for others and our nation. They chose us.

From the safe distance of this century, it is tempting to settle for the broad brushstrokes of history in neglectful ignorance of individual sacrifices made in our name.

To understand what happened here, to feel a connection with this place, is to be fully Australian.

No group of Australians has given more, nor worked harder to shape and define our identity than those who have worn – and now wear – the uniform of the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force.

They forged values that are ours and make us who we are, reminding us that there are some truths by which we live that are worth defending.

Let us recommit ourselves to that which Gallipoli asks of every Australian, whether by birth or immigration.

Our Australia – their Australia – is a nation in which our values are etched less in granite and marble than they are in our flag, a slouch hat, rising sun, and a smile that says, “G’Day mate. Can I give you a hand?”

Our responsibilities to one another transcend and define our rights. We salute principle before position and honour values, not value.

We will be at our best in facing different, threatening horizons, if we triumph as they did, over fear.

The bedrock for our most fragile, yet powerful of beliefs – hopeful confidence in the future – is the gift given us by generations of servicemen and women.

Precious Australians, who lie here, and in distant places of the world, do so as silent witnesses to the future they have given us. We honour them by the way we use our lives and shape our nation.

The sun will soon pierce the night sky.

Let us shine that light into dark corners of the world as an outward looking, compassionate and confident people imbued with the ANZAC spirit of endurance, courage and selfless determination to help others.

Robert “Mac” Calder of the 14th Battalion heard a voice calling from no man’s land, “Have you forgotten me Cobbers?”

He didn’t. We won’t. We never will.

We are young and we are free.

Lest we forget.


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Malcolm Farnsworth
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