25/04/2021 - Speech by Benoit Mottrie, Chairman of the Last Post Association
Burgemeester, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
We are meeting here today in strange and difficult circumstances.
Never since the very first ANZAC Day ceremony in Ieper, held in 1967, have there been so few people present at this annual act of remembrance to commemorate the landing of Australian and New Zealand troops at Gallipoli in 1915.
Of course, we all know the reason why we are so few.
The world, not for the first time , is once again in crisis.
Sadly, as we speak, people are dying all around the globe and millions of families have already been touched by tragedy and loss.
When faced with catastrophes of this magnitude, we often turn to the past for guidance, inspiration and comfort. How did our forefathers deal with such calamities? What enabled them to pull through and finally made it possible for them to triumph over adversity?
The answers to these questions are often encapsulated in what is called ‘the spirit of the nation’. Even today, the French still talk of ‘l’esprit de Verdun’. Similarly, the British refer to ‘Dunkirk spirit’ .
In much the same way, it is, today, highly appropriate – to talk of the ANZAC spirit.
This spirit, born on the shores of Gallipoli and developed over many years and through many subsequent trials and tribulations, encapsulates the core values that make your respective nations what they are.
They are the things that make you resilient and strong: solidarity, courage, perseverance, selflessness, integrity and respect.
In this sense, today’s ANZAC Day is more relevant than ever.
It reminds us of who we are and what we can achieve, if only we act together in the face of a common threat.
It offers us the hope that at the end of the road, and notwithstanding the sacrifices that will be necessary along the way, a better, brighter and fairer world will emerge.
This is a message that is as important today as it was to the men and women of a hundred years ago.
We owe it to their memory and to future generations to ensure that we do not fail.