Our federal bond was young when the Anzacs came to this place. The laws and institutions of our nation were laid down in 1901. But here, in 1915, its spirit and ethos were sealed. This was our first act of nationhood in the eyes of a watching world, an act authored not by statesmen or diplomats, but by simple soldiers. The Anzacs. The boys of Federation who became the men of Gallipoli…
So today we come here not in triumph. We come here in honour of qualities that defined the Anzacs and, we hope however faintly, might also define ourselves: Reckless daring under fire. Larrikin good humour. A genius for improvisation. And the unbroken bond of mateship. Qualities that a swift victory might not have so easily revealed. But qualities tempered and disclosed over nine months spent in the mud and filth of these treacherous gullies and unyielding cliffs.
Victory was not gained here, but meaning was won in this place and a harsh learning. From here, the Anzacs went to the Western Front and Palestine where they found triumph. And it is over this entire continuum from Anzac Day 1915 to Armistice Day 1918 upon which, in the final analysis, our judgement must be made. That is the tradition of arms that gave us Tobruk and Kokoda, Kapyong and Long Tan. And that is the tradition of arms passed down unbroken over a century to more recent conflicts, as the presence of Ben Roberts-Smith [VC] so powerfully attests today.
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