2012 Order of Service

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2012 Breakfast Point ANZAC Day Dawn Service Address.

On 25th April 1915, Australian and New Zealand troops landed under fire at Gallipoli.  This was the first engagement of Australian troops as Australians – previously in the Boer War they had fought as British – and so the day has special symbolism for Australian forces.  During this campaign, what is now described as the ANZAC tradition was formed.

The ANZAC tradition is not in fact much different to traditions of many other Defence Forces throughout the world; however, it is a state of mind that is often inexplicable to those who have not encountered the tragedies of armed conflict.  Some describe sporting teams as embodying the ANZAC traditions of mateship, self-sacrifice and putting the team goals above individual efforts and there are a lot of common threads; yet seldom do sporting encounters result in death.  It is this final and all too real outcome of daily life in the service of one’s country that separates these heroes from the general population.

On this day, above all days, we remember those who have served our nation in times of war, and in particular those who have died or been incapacitated performing their duty.  As a nation, our military history covers the well-known battlefields of World Wars One and Two where incredible numbers, over 101,000 died in horrific circumstances.  But we also remember the Korean War where 340 died, the Vietnam War where 521 died, and in a range of other conflicts and peacekeeping missions where some 102 fine Australians have had their lives ended prematurely, with one of our most recent deaths being Craftsman Beau Pridue who was killed in East Timor in September last year.  I mention him specifically because he was one of the soldiers in my last unit who I personally selected for deployment based on the attributes he displayed as an ANZAC.  At this moment, on every day, some 2,500 Australians are serving their country on operations and putting their lives on the line.

Some years ago, my wife and I were in France on ANZAC Day and attended a Dawn Service at Bullecourt, where thousands of Australians are buried.  Walking up the 500m or so entrance towards the memorial, we passed through a line of gravestones.  My thoughts were centred on the ages of those who had died – in that 500 metres I only found one who was older than I was at the time when he died; for Annie, the most poignant message was on a particular headstone – after name and date of death was a simple message: Duty Done.  ANZACs past, present and future, we salute you and we will remember you.

Bill Cowham