Anzac Day address, Morning Service, Townsville, 25 April 2013
So often, war means saying goodbye. This city of Townsville understands that truth so well. No one better exemplifies the ANZAC story of duty and sacrifice than the uniformed men and women of this garrison city who leave here so often to serve Australia overseas. We honour you today.
No one better exemplifies the respect, the admiration, the affection, the love, we feel for our people in uniform than the families and citizens of this great Australian community. Today, we honour your sacrifice too. Saying goodbye in the hope your loved one will come back.
That is the story of this community today – it has been the story of so many Australian communities throughout our history – just as it was the story of the families and communities who farewelled the ANZACs in 1914 and 1915 …
Unlike some such speeches, this one remembers wounded service people and their families, as well as dead service people. It concludes:
So if you want to know about Townsville, come here on ANZAC Day. If you want to understand Australians, watch us on ANZAC Day. You will see ceremonies as grave and solemn as any in Europe. A nation which expresses its most eloquent patriotic spirit in the silences we share on this day.
Later in the day, the prime minister did an ABC radio interview:
HOST: As we approach the Centenary of Anzac Day, are you encouraged by the ever growing crowds that are attending Dawn Services around the country and overseas?
PM: I certainly am. And the thing that I always look for is the number of children and there are just more and more and more, and sometimes when you get into conversations, why did you come, parents very freely admit “I got dragged here by my young son or daughter”.
So it’s actually the children who are driving the next level of engagement and I think that that means that for all of time, we will commemorate Anzac Day and think about who we are as Australians on that day.