Anzac Day Dawn Service

It is a privilege to be with you here today at the ANZAC Commemorative Site, as we mark the 108th anniversary of the Allied landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

I wish to pay tribute to any current or former defence personnel who join us today, as well as the families of those who have served.

Thank you all for your sacrifices.

And we express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the people of Türkiye impacted by the earthquakes earlier this year.

In Türkiye, New Zealand and Australia, Gallipoli has become a central part of our national story, transcending generations.

In Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Europe, and indeed across the globe, as the dawn breaks on ANZAC Day, we come to places like these, solemnly, silently, and respectfully.

We do not come to glorify war, we come to acknowledge, pay respects and to honour all who sacrificed life and limb, mind and spirit in battle.

Today, we gather to remember the sacrifices of so many ordinary Australians, caught up in extraordinary events throughout our history.

The first of which, occurred on these shores.

Before the sun rose on that fateful day, the ANZAC legend was set in train.

The legend that continues to shape our national values.

Values of courage, sacrifice, compassion and mateship.

So many Australians have a connection with Gallipoli – a family story of a son lost, or a local legend who never returned home.

Today, visitors wander among the headstones, reading inscriptions that tell of lives cut short and the grief of those families left behind.

Thousands of names are also etched on the Lone Pine Memorial to the missing, commemorating the Australians and New Zealanders who died in the campaign and have no known grave, their families never learning their final resting place.

So it was for the family of Walter Blair from Maddington, in Perth – my local community.

In August 1914, 20 year old Walter was starting out his career as a primary school teacher.

He had served for eight months in a local militia unit, and, when war broke out, like so many others, he enlisted.

He joined the Australian Imperial Force, and was soon a Private in the 11th Battalion.

Before sunrise on the 25th of April 1915, the 11th Battalion was one of the first ashore at Gallipoli.

Walter remained in action for three days, until his unit was relieved.

They returned to the trenches on the 1st of May.

He was killed the next day.

Walter, like thousands of others, has no known grave.

Today his name is listed on the Lone Pine Memorial to the missing.

Neither his parents, Thomas and Jessie, nor his siblings ever knew what had become of their son and brother.

When we say ‘Lest We Forget’ at the end of the Ode we mean it; we will remember them.

We do remember them.

Today we remember all those who fell here, we remember those they left behind and all who have served in Australia’s uniform over more than a century in war, in conflict, as keepers of peace as humanitarian saviours.

The spirit of the ANZAC, the legend – is all about mateship – that means stepping up for what you believe in, to protect our way of life, and those we value most.

For decades Australians have done just that, and we continue to do so, alongside our friends, so many of which join us today.

More than a century on, the ANZAC legend will never die, the spirit lives on in every single individual who pulls on a uniform; in every primary school when a child hears the whisper of the word ANZAC for the first time.

This ANZAC Day I encourage you all to acknowledge and pay tribute to not only those who served here in Gallipoli, or on the Western Front – but all of our service personnel who have engaged in conflict, peacekeeping or humanitarian operations, and their New Zealand brothers and sisters, they fought alongside.

They each embody the spirit of the ANZAC.

Lest we forget.

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