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ANZAC Memorial
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC

I am honoured to represent the people of New South Wales on this national day of remembrance and to acknowledge the veterans, families and communities around the State who are marking ANZAC Day 2020. 

The ANZAC Memorial, where this ceremony is being held, stands on Gadigal land.  Known today as Hyde Park South, this land was traditionally a ritual contest ground and a crossroads for the walking trails of the Indigenous people.  It was also an important ceremonial site and so it remains today.[1]  

I pay my respects to the Gadigal of the Eora Nation and to the traditional owners of all Aboriginal Nations extending to the furthest reaches of our state. 

There is a quietness here in this Hall of Memory this morning.  The marble floor is cool, the sculpted warrior “Sacrifice” is cradled, as always, by his mother, sister, wife and child, a “joint bearing of [the burden of war]”.[2]  The flame burns in homage to all those who have lost their lives in service to our country.

In the Hall of Service are soils from 1701 New South Wales towns, cities, suburbs and homesteads, given as the home address by our First World War enlistees.  The 120,000 stars in the domed ceiling of the Hall of Memory honour those who embarked overseas. 

At the entrance threshold to the Hall of Silence, the words “Let silent contemplation be your offering” are inlaid in brass in the black slate.  Only silence can remind us of the sacredness of life.   

All these are reminders of what has been endured, and tell us why the ravages of war should never be endured. They are a statement as to why service is not about war, but is about peace.  These symbols tell the stories of the dedication and determination of all who serve, stories that are immortalised in the ANZAC spirit:  a spirit of Courage, Mateship, Endurance, Humour and Ingenuity.[3]

In the months after the end of World War One, as soldiers, sailors and nurses were returning home, the world succumbed to another ‘enemy’ - the Spanish flu - which wreaked its havoc on our already grieving community, and constrained our first, post war ANZAC commemorations.  

Today’s COVID-19 pandemic has likewise imposed its constraints and for good reasons.  War or no war, a pandemic is an enemy.  And, just as in war, the physical and mental health of our people is at the forefront of our concerns.  In 2020, we again each need to take care of our own health and to look out for the well-being of others.  Health and the community always go together. 

Buoyed by the ANZAC spirit, the community’s commitment to the greater good, in accepting the constraints on our movement and the limitations on our activities, calls for commendation.  This strong community spirit speaks to our Australian character.  Let us always be like that. 

Let us all continue to be compassionate and generous, and grateful to those who are working to keep us healthy and safe, including our defence service personnel.

Today, I especially thank our veterans, our war widows, our current serving personnel and their families, for whom today is one of the most important in their year.  I pay tribute to our World War Two veterans as we mark, this year, the 75th anniversary of the end of that war. 

I also acknowledge the many people and organisations who would normally join with us in person to commemorate this day, including our ex Service Organisations, Legacy, our Commonwealth and other allies.  And let us not forget those against whom we fought.

The decision to restrict the way in which this ANZAC Day is to be commemorated was not taken lightly.  It is the day when the community honours our veterans, the day when mateships are renewed.  The day when courage is remembered.  The day when we reflect on what was endured.

In the quietness of this place and in the quietness of the places where you are, let us make this a special, reflective ANZAC Day and let us look forward to the warm handshakes, the proud countenances and the camaraderie which we will enjoy again.

Today, we remain united in the ANZAC spirit.  The connection and commemoration is different. But howsoever different: We shall remember them.  

LEST WE FORGET

 



[1] https://www.cityartsydney.com.au/artwork/yininmadyemi-thou-didst-let-fall/

Yininmadyemi Thou Didst Let Fall Memorial: ‘Hyde Park South has been chosen as the location for the artwork due to its status and historical significance. The site was once a ritual contest ground, a crossroads for traditional walking trails, and an important site for ceremony, gathering and camping. It is also home to the ANZAC Memorial.’

[2] C. Geertz, Local Knowledge: Further essays in interpretive anthropology (Basic Books, New York, 1983).

[3] RSL national campaign uses the following ANZAC Spirit themes: courage, mateship, endurance, humour and ingenuity.

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