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Moving words by Lt. Matthew Tollenaar (1st Signal Regiment, Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera) Anzac Day 2018, Albany Creek.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to join you for your Anzac Day ceremony; it is a great privilege to be with you today and represent both the 1st Signal Regiment and the Australian Defence Force on this Anzac Day.

We meet here today, not to glorify war, but to remember those who have served our country during times of conflict and crisis, and to reflect upon their selfless sacrifice.

To all Australians, Anzac Day is a tradition, paid for in blood and celebrated in our freedom. It is a day in which not only do we salute the Anzacs, but in paying tribute to them, we also take an opportunity to invigorate our national spirit and pride.

On this day, in 1915, the largest group of volunteer Australian and New Zealand soldiers ever assembled found themselves wading ashore before dawn at a small beach on Gallipoli peninsula in what is now known as Turkey. Many of these men were only teenagers, some as young as 16.

Over the eight months following the landing, those young Anzacs underwent a baptism by fire. In total 36,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers were killed or wounded at Gallipoli and by the end of the Great War, 78,000 ANZACs earned a reputation for courage, self-reliance and mateship. The experience drew Australians together as a nation and helped establish our national character. Their bravery and sacrifice motivated countless others back home to join their cause and turn the tide of war.

Of course, there are many other names from many other wars where Australian lives were lost in the cause of a better world. On this day, above all days, we remember them.

We remember the airmen who flew in hazardous missions over Europe in World War 2. The gallant pilots who fought in the victory at Milne Bay. We remember the sailors and submariners who were away from home for long periods on hazardous missions fighting to keep the vital sea lanes open. The rats of Tobruk. 14,000 brave Australians who held their ground against an undefeated German-Italian armoured force and started their retreat all the way back to Berlin. We remember the Nurses, Doctors and Medics who saved untold lives. And the communities who helped in any way they could. There were battles near our homeland in the inhospitable terrain of New Guinea.

Later Australians fought with distinction in Korea. We took part in campaigns such as Borneo and Malaya. The Vietnam War, our longest military campaign prior to Afghanistan, where over almost eight years, 46,000 Australian men and women served – some volunteers and some conscripts – but all there to do their duty. We remember those who became prisoners of war and those who don’t show the visible signs of their service.

For younger generations, it can be difficult to understand what it is that we stop to remember on Anzac Day. Many Australians today have never had to chance their loved ones to the dangers of war. Many do not know what it is like to follow the progress of far off battles in newspapers, newsreels or on television. They have never felt grief spread though the community while waiting for news of a husband, father, brother son, friend or neighbour.

If we pause, even just once a year, to imagine these things we begin to understand the depth of feeling that inspires the Anzac memory. If happiness is the product of freedom, then surely freedom is the reward of courage and sacrifice.

The Anzacs and all who have followed in their footsteps have shown us that with good leadership and high motivation, any Australian can more than match the best in the world in whatever they do. We have the ability to face challenges together and overcome them, to put community before self. To be courageous, determined, self-reliant and strong. We should be proud of our heritage, our Country and the actions that have shaped it. This is the spirit of Anzac; the spirit that we must pass to future generations.

Lest we forget.

© Gemma Liviero 2013