Transcript of the Prime Minister, the Hon. John Howard MP, address at the Anzac Day parade, Canberra, 25 April 2001
The transcript is headed, ‘The Anzac tradition’ and the then Prime Minister noted that Australians are drawn together at Anzac Day by ‘a great silent summons to repay a debt to the past. Each year the numbers of us grow. Each year, more and more young Australians hear the call, though far removed, in time and circumstance, from those they seek to honour.’
Military exploits have given us treasured mementoes of the past but ‘Anzac Day should not only be about the past. We would be a shallow people if all we sought on this day each year, was to bask in the pale reflected glory of others’ deeds. We would be foolish if we felt our own safety assured by the service and sacrifice of earlier generations.’
[W]e gather in ever-increasing numbers to each pledge anew our determination, not merely to dwell upon the legacy of the past, but also to build upon it. To extend a culture of proud self reliance and personal initiative. To create a just society where an individual’s rights are respected but their responsibilities are also recognised. To offer our children, and their children, all the possibilities of the world should they only have the heart and the will to grasp them. To build strong communities where men and women strive together for the common good and none need live in fear or isolation.
We gather to be reminded of the values so evident among Australians in time of war and adversity but that we too can use to face the challenges within our own lives. Courage, unity of purpose, compassion and selflessness; these virtues, so compelling and so commonplace amid the horror of battle, seem to subside so often in the calm of peace. Anzac Day reminds us all that it need not be so.
Anzac Day reminds us that we each have a task before us. Blessedly, not to fight new wars, not to bear the loss of sons and daughters, but to use the peace and prosperity purchased for us at so high a price. Anzac Day reminds us that our nation is capable of the most extraordinary achievements if only we dare to reach them.