25 April 2009
Lone Pine Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey
This small piece of land was seized in a short, brutal fight on 6 August 1915.
It was then held at terrible cost.
It's here at Lone Pine that Australians most immediately experience the bitterly mixed emotions evoked by this sacred place.
To Australians, it symbolises the realities of the suffering and the tragic loss, but also the enduring inspiration that lies at the heart of the Anzac story.
The campaign, of which this battle was a proud chapter, was always doomed.
Even the extraordinary bravery of all those who fought here on the Allied side could never bring victory.
But the courage, ingenuity and resilience that young Australians displayed here through a long, bitter campaign, has come now to help symbolise the spirit of the Australian people and uplift the spirit of the Australian nation.
The sense that we had for the first time fought as Australians, even though under a British command, did much to strengthen our then fledgling sense of nationhood, as it did for New Zealand.
The costly victory won by Turkish defending forces was the proud opening chapter in the history of a new Turkish nation, as it was the start of the great respect and warm friendship between our two nations and our two peoples.
The names of nearly 5,000 Anzacs are etched on the memorial behind me.
They have no known grave or were buried at sea.
Many of them were among the more than 8,700 Australians who died at Gallipoli and part of more than 100,000 Australians who died in the Great War and the many conflicts since.
This starkly beautiful monument, with its thousands of etched names, resonates with something deep inside us.
Quiet pride mixed with the tragic sense of loss at lives cut so cruelly short.
Quiet pride in the fierce independence of the Diggers, in their stoicism and in their unfailing loyalty to their mates through good times and bad.
Quiet pride in a legacy which helps underpin what we aspire to as a nation and a people.
Egalitarian in spirit and independent by nature.
A belief in a 'fair go' for all and in not leaving the weak or vulnerable
Optimism about what can be achieved by ingenuity and working together.
Defiance against the odds and finding strength in a sense of humour in adversity.
Gallipoli now embodies these characteristics in an enduring way.
It is an indelible part of our history and a continuing inspiration for our future as we join in ongoing respect and gratitude for the fallen.
Lest We Forget.
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