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The Hon Richard Marles MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Defence
25 April 2023
I would like to thank the Wathaurong people, the traditional owners of the land on which we meet this morning. Can I acknowledge Christine Couzens, the member for Geelong.
On this day we remember those who have worn, and continue to wear, our nation's uniform. Anzac Day was inspired by the First World War where those who first put on our nation's uniform did so imagining that it would be a ticket to the adventure of a lifetime.
As the Ode reminds us: they were not old, as we have grown old. They were young, naive, fresh. They had not experienced family, or love, or the fullness of a life lived. That was not yet theirs. They had not had their turn.
When they reached the front and they met the enemy, they were shocked by the mud. By the stench. By the presence of death. By the sheer lonely terror and brutality of the most gruesome war that has ever been fought.
And in a week, in a day, in an hour, their mind set shifted to understanding that the wearing of our nation's uniform might be their last act. That the wearing of our nation's uniform might occasion the ultimate personal sacrifice.
Throughout our history, for more than 100,000 men and women who have served in our defence forces, this is exactly what it has been. And yet, they had the courage to move forward. To face the foe. To do remarkable deeds.
And in my life now, I have the privilege of working alongside those who were our nation's uniform and to visit the graves of those who made that ultimate sacrifice. And I wonder, from where did that courage come? The Australian journalist Charles Bean who walked every day of the First World War alongside our troops gave us an insight when he wrote:
Many a man lying out there at Pozieres and in the low scrub at Gallipoli, with his poor tired senses barely working through the fever of his brain,
has thought in his final moments…well, well…it’s over.
But in Australia - they will be proud of this.
And these words tell us that the courage in life, and the solace in sacrifice for these people was all about us. It was the love of our family. It was the fun of our laughter. It was the pursuit of our happiness, which inspired them.
And their blood has quite literally invigorated our lives and our nation to this very day. And their sacrifice is as relevant now, as it was then.
And so for us, the most important act that we can do at this hour, on this day, is to be here every year to remember them. Lest we forget.