Speech by the Hon Alexander Downer, MP, Minister for Foreign Affairs,
to the Turkish International Service, Gallipoli, 25 April 2001
Today, half a world away, the people of our young land gather at countless ceremonies across a continent to remember deeds done on the battlefields of Gallipoli.
The origins and aims of that struggle seem distant to us now, bound up with politics and grand strategies of an era made unreal after almost century of change. But the human achievement of all those who suffered on this peninsula, whatever uniform they may have worn, shines as brightly as if it happened yesterday.
We remember the catastrophe that is war. Each one of these graves marks a personal tragedy for countless mothers and fathers, wives and children. And they mark a tragedy for all our nations, as too many of our most talented and promising had their youthful brilliance dimmed forever in the stones and dust of these fields. It reminds us all that those who blindly speak of the glory of war are seldom those who have experienced its terrible reality.
But we remember also the courage and gallantry of all these men - their good humour in the face of almost unimaginable hardship, their concern for their comrades, and their regard for their adversaries. We acknowledge their devotion to a cause they felt was worth more than their own well being, a cause they were willing to die for. They fought in the firm belief that any sacrifice they made would be more than justified if it meant a better future for their sons and daughters.
Now, in all our countries, the conviction of our forefathers has been vindicated.
For Australians and New Zealanders, the fire that was kindled at Gallipoli has burned deep into our spirit. The events that took place so many years ago on this small piece of land have come to be one of the defining elements of our national being. The Anzac legend lives on, giving hope in the face of adversity, and renewed by each new generation.
Likewise, the Gallipoli campaign was a crucial link in the process that forged the modern nation of Turkey. That unique bond between our nations has led, over the years, to the development of a firm friendship between peoples who once were in conflict. Our friendship has been reinforced over the years by the many Turkish men and women who have migrated to Australia, building a prosperous and honoured community in our country. And so it is that, close to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, you will find a memorial to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk - a courageous, worthy and resourceful leader, and the man who so generously embraced his fallen enemies as sons of Turkey.
Together, then, we honour every one of those brave men. Through this International Service, we give resounding affirmation to their courage, their determination and their noble idealism. It is fitting, too, that we do so in what has become the Gallipoli Peninsula Peace Park - a memorial to sacrifice, as well as a reminder to us all of the priceless value of peace. From the example of all the men who have found rest in these hills, may we continue to draw strength and inspiration to meet the challenges of our modern world and, in our own actions, uphold the promise - "we will remember them."
This page last modified: Tuesday, 20-Nov-2007 14:52:27 EST
Local Date: Saturday, 25-May-2013 23:12:39 EST