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Monday, 25 April 2022
ANZAC Memorial
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC

Bujari gamarruwa

Diyn Babana Gamarada Gadigal Ngura

I greet you in the language of the Gadigal, the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet, and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

I am honoured to join you on this special day of remembrance, a day that is important to us as individuals, as a community and as a nation.

On 21 May 1915, it was a personal act of remembrance at Gallipoli that led Australian-born Royal Naval Officer, Olympic rower, musician and composer Frederick Septimus Kelly to write:

... the whole of the afternoon, bullets have been whistling continuously over my dug-out. I have - ever since the day of Rupert Brooke's death - been composing an elegy for string orchestra ... Today I felt my way right through to the end of it.”[1]

The ‘Elegy for String Orchestra: In Memoriam Rupert Brooke’, composed in memory of Kelly’s friend, was written on the Gallipoli battlefield,[2] and first performed publicly in England following Kelly’s own death in the Battle of the Somme.[3]

As much as remembrance is personal, public commemoration, with its ceremony, traditions and symbolism, invites us to engage with its moral significance.[4] Commemoration enables a community to reflect on the significance of each individual life.

There is not one ANZAC story, there are many - stories of Indigenous service; of the camaraderie of Allies and Pacific neighbours; of feats of arms at sea, on the land and in the air; of the vital work of our coast watchers and of our medical services; of the women who joined the Land Army, worked in factories and provided care packages; the stories of the impact on families. All these and many more are part of the ANZAC story. 

In the symbolism of candle-lit dawns, the poppies of Flanders fields, the rosemary brought back by a soldier in 1915, from where it grew wild on the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula,[5] and the sprig of wattle on the RSL badge,[6]recalling the flowers pressed into letters, diaries and notebooks,[7] we are reminded of the hope of true peace which only exists when there is no war.  

ANZAC Day 2022 falls in a ‘Year of Anniversaries’.

This year we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the 1942 Pacific campaigns of the Second World War.   That campaign had started with the bombing of Pearl Harbour the year before, on 7 December 1941.  The day following that attack,[8] Prime Minister Curtin delivered his solemn message:

“Men and Women of Australia, we are at war with Japan… Each must take his or her place in the service of the nation, for the nation itself is in peril. This is our darkest hour.”[9]

That dark hour stretched over 3 ½ long years, involving all three arms of our defence force.  Unfamiliar places would become embedded in our national psyche: Rabaul, Ambon, Timor, Bangka, the Java and Coral Seas, Kokoda, Milne Bay, Buna, Gona and Sanananda, among others.

2022 also marks 50 years since the withdrawal of the last of the Australian units in Vietnam.[10] As one of those last to leave on HMAS Sydney wrote:

“We were going home… Walking through empty buildings, this (was) a special moment in time – doors banging in the wind and the base eerily deserted … I never really got over the friends I lost in Vietnam.”[11]

I am also deeply mindful that this is the first ANZAC Day since Australia’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of Australian’s large-scale military commitment to the Middle East.  To the Veterans of Middle East Operations from 2001-2021, we recognise your service and your stories.  The prominent place in today’s ANZAC Day March for Veterans in those Operations, marks the respect we, as a community, have for the service undertaken by each and every one of you. 

In 2020, at the COVID-safe ANZAC Memorial Service, when we could not gather, I said in the solemnity that filled the stillness on that day:

“In the quietness of this place and in the quietness of the places where you are … let us look forward to the warm handshakes, the proud countenances and the camaraderie which we will enjoy again.”[12]

May we cherish the warmth, pride and camaraderie of our public commemorations today.

Lest we forget


[4] Cecile Fabre, Oxford University, Professor of Philosophy, Author of Cosmopolitan Peace. This concept - that there are moral reasons for commemoration - is presented in ‘Remembering Wars: Lest We Forget’ podcast in The Philosopher’s Zone on Radio National,-lest-we-forget/8809376

[8] 7 December 1941

[11] Bill Denny, in Vietnam: our war – our peace, Department of Veterans' Affairs, 2006 pp 48-49, in:

[12] Her Excellency’s 2020 ANZAC Day speech at the ANZAC Memorial

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