25/04/2023 - Speech by Benoit Mottrie, Chairman of the Last Post Association
On the early morning of 25 April 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the rocky shoreline of the Gallipoli peninsula in what is now modern day Turkey. It was their first significant action in the First World War, fighting together in a manner that helped to shape the growing identities of these two newly emerging nations.
During the past 108 years, the men and women of both countries have taken part in many further conflicts and peace-keeping missions, and added many further names of fame not only to their own history, but to the history of the world: Pozieres, Messines, Passchendaele, Villers-Bretonneux, Le Quesnoy, Alamein, Kokoda, Cassino, Korea, Vietnam and, more recently, Afghanistan. Participation in each of these conflicts was marked by the same ANZAC spirit: boldness in attack, defiance in defence, humour and endurance in adversity, loyalty in comradeship.
Sadly, participation in these conflicts also came at a terrible price – and it is that price that we are here to remember today.
We remember those who have died in the service of their country. We remember those who went home, broken in either body or mind. We remember those whose lives were diminished by the loss of loved ones. At the same time, we also remember – and firmly believe – that this awful sacrifice was not in vain.
Although it is obviously true that the world would have been a better place if these wars had never happened, it is just as profoundly true that it would have been an infinitely worse place if they had not been fought and won. Those of us who have lived our lives in peace, freedom and prosperity owe a debt of gratitude to those who gave everything to defend these precious gifts, so that they could be passed on to us, our children and our children’s children.
And as we express this gratitude, let us remember, in the words of President John F. Kennedy, that “the highest form of appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. Only then will the legacy of the ANZACs be truly safe for posterity.”