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ANZAC Day: Speech

25/04/2024 - Speech by Benoit Mottrie, Chairman of the Last Post Association

Minister, Burgemeester, Excellenties, Ladies and gentlemen, dames en heren,

Welcome to this 108th commemoration of ANZAC Day, for the very first time not in our usual setting under the Menin Gate, but, exceptionally, here alongside Sir Reginald Blomfield’s magnificent memorial.

The work that we can see and your presence here today are further evidence, if any were needed, of the determination of our combined societies to contunue to remember the men and women who fought and died during the past century to defend the freedoms we all hold so dear.

As we stand here in Ieper, it is natural that our thoughts should first turn to the original generation of ANZACs, the men who landed at Gallipoli and later went on to take part in so many of the terrible battles on Western Front, including the notorious Passchendale offensive here in the Ypres Salient.

However, we must also pay tribute to subsequent generations of ANZACs: to the men who braved the jungles of New Guinea, the deserts of North Africa and the mountains of Italy during the Second World War and others who during the lifetime of most of us standing here today, risked and sometimes gave their lives in campaigns in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and so many other places.

Nor should we forget that even as I speak members of the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces are still serving in many of the world’s most dangerous hotspots.

What unites the men and women of all these different generations, no matter where or when they fought, was their willingness to risk all they had to defend the fundamental values on which our society is based:

  • to resist unjustified aggression, to protect the weak against the strong,
  • to restore peace where it has been broken,
  • to allow people the right to pursue their own health, wealth and happiness in full freedom.

These values are as important today as they have ever been and we are truly grateful to those who paid the ultimate price so that we might enjoy them today.

Sadly, the world is still a dangerous place and their might come a day when our values are once again seriously threatened. Should that ever be the case, I am certain that a future generation of ANZACs will once again be ready to answer freedom’s call.

Let us pray that it will not be necessary.

Thank you.

The Last Post

Every day, at 8 o’clock in the evening. The daily act of homage.

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