Hawke, RJ: Anzac Day 1990, Dawn Service

Hawke, Robert

Speech by the Prime Minister, Dawn Service, Gallipoli, 25 April 1990

While the military objectives of the Australians at Gallipoli were not achieved ‘because of the courage with which they fought, because of their devotion to duty and their comradeship, because of their ingenuity, their good humour and their endurance, because these hills rang with their voices and ran with their blood, this place Gallipoli is, in one sense, a part of Australia’. It was not possible to dedicate a place that was already sacred because of the Diggers’ sacrifice.

The speech is very reminiscent of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; Hawke’s is five to ten words longer than Lincoln’s, depending on which version of the latter is used. A then member of Hawke’s staff has confirmed that the speech was written primarily by Graham Freudenberg, an admirer of Lincoln, and consciously picked up the same theme that words could not embellish deeds. The link was recognised at the time the speech was given.

We should instead dedicate ourselves to keeping bright the memory of those men who so unstintingly did what was asked of them on our behalf and to ensuring that the freedom and peace for which they so ardently yearned, for which they so bravely fought, and for which so many of them so selflessly gave their lives, shall not pass away.

Hawke’s own reference to the speech is found, significantly, within his memoirs chapter about the first Gulf War:

The most touching experience of my time as Prime Minister came at dawn on 25th April as the sun rose over the historic hills above Anzac Cove. The old soldiers and the hundreds of young Australian backpackers who had travelled to join in the service bonded with each other in profound affection. Later in the morning our veterans faced their grizzled Turkish counterparts, hesitated, then embraced. As I looked back nearly a year later, Gallipoli and the Gulf merged in a swell of pride for my country and its people. (p. 527)

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