So what would this brave company of men and women – these hundred thousand voices – have to say to us today? What would the 645 brave men who these last 66 years have lain entombed in [HMAS] Sydney’s iron grave [recently discovered off Western Australia] beneath the deep – what would they say to us today? What is it about their stories that wrenches us still – fully 90 years after the Armistice that ended the war to end all wars? I think it is this.
That whatever the comforts of our modern age; whatever its distractions and whatever its disillusionments – that there is something unique about this land Australia and the ideals for which we Australians stand. That this is a place of unparalleled beauty. That we are a good people who want for the good of others. That we stand for a deep sense of liberty for which our forebears fought and which should never be surrendered – whatever the cost. That we are a people who by instinct cannot stand idly by and be indifferent to the suffering of others. A people with a sense of a fair go for all carved deep into our national soul. A people also alert to the needs of our friends and allies.
These are the values which summoned forth the sons and daughters of ANZAC over the last 100 years from our smallest towns, our greatest cities and our most remote outback. It is this, I believe, that touches us afresh each ANZAC morning – the fresh voices of those who have indeed not grown old because their voices still whisper to us amid the quiet reflections of this sombre day.