New Zealand Embassy Washington, United States of America

ANZAC Day 2014 speech at the Washington National Cathedral

Ambassador Moore speaking at this year's ANZAC Day Commemorative Church Service.

by Rt Hon. Mike Moore, New Zealand Ambassador to the United States

25 April 2014

“We cannot defend our country from our own goal line.”

(As prepared for delivery)

Tena koutou, e hoa ma.

The Australian Ambassador the Honourable Kim Beazley and I welcome you to this magnificent National Cathedral to mark our most sacred and solemn day.

Thank you for your attendance and a special welcome to our gallant Turkish friends.

We should remember too, that 21,000 British; 10,000 French; 1,500 Indian and 50 Newfoundlanders perished as did 87,000 Turks at Gallipoli.

So, it came to pass that on the 25th April 1915, the Australian and New Zealanders landed on what became known as ANZAC Cove.

The objective was to knock Turkey out of the war and relieve pressure on the deadlocked western front.

In the blood, mud, dust, ice, fire and flood Aussies and Kiwis became brothers – not in law but in fact:  blood brothers.

Much has been written about the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava.

We all know Lord Tennyson’s immortal words.

“Into the valley of death rode the 600

Theirs is not to reason why

Theirs is but to do or die.”

The Light Brigade suffered a thirty three percent casualty rate.

At Gallipoli Aussies and Kiwis suffered over an eighty percent casualty rate.  Not over an adrenalin driven hour, but month after month as they threw themselves at the cliff faces and trenches.

During the First World War about forty two percent of all New Zealand and Australian males between 19 and 40 fought, with a casualty rate of around fifty eight percent.

Thus, in our young countries half of all families were affected.

The great leader Ataturk marshalled his troops with a famous order saying:

“I do not order you to attack, I order you to die.”

The Turkish National Anthem has a compelling sentence and I quote “What man would not die for this heavenly piece of land?”

From this fiery furnace at Gallipoli, three Nations were forged; Australia, New Zealand and modern Turkey.

No two Nations have sailed, marched and flown so far to make and keep peace.  We have never been neutral, passive or indifferent to the demands of keeping and making the peace.  It’s the rent we pay for civilisation.

Historians are very wrong when they write about 1940 “When Britain stood alone.”  No.  They were never alone.  There were always Australians, Kiwis, Canadians, Commonwealth and Empire Nations.  20,000 kiwis, from a population of 1.6 million, served in Allied Airforces.

Australians and New Zealanders have waged war and peace; and policed in the Boer war, the First World War, the Expeditionary Force that invaded Lenin’s new Soviet Union, the Second World War, Korea, Kashmir, Cyprus, Malaya, Borneo, what was Rhodesia, Vietnam, Iraq (twice), Somalia, the Soloman Islands, Namibia, Sierre Leone, Papua New Guinea/Bougainville, Lebanon, Rwanda, Haiti, Timor Leste, the former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, the list goes on and alas, will go on.

We know we cannot defend our countries on our own Goal Line.

The veterans of the past were ordinary people – so, farmers, miners, clerks and builders charged across battlefields, in mountains and in the desert.  Some fought on the high seas, some battled in the jungle and some patrolled the skies.  (Still do.)

All contributed to the character and spirit of our nations.  Sacrifice does not just build character, it reveals character.

We had no military class.  The ANZACs were described as “not military”, anti-authority, but quite warlike.  A story goes of Montgomery being escorted by General Freyberg around our troops in North Africa.

“Freyberg” Montgomery barked crisply.  “Don’t New Zealanders return salutes?”  “I’ve found if you give them a cheerful wave they will often wave back”  Freyberg replied.

We do remember them.  On the 25th April in every town, village and city in Australia and New Zealand in their tens, and then in their hundreds, and in the big cities in their tens of thousands we remember them.

Rather than this day retreating into the fog and mist of history, it is being recognised on a larger scale with each generation.

Whenever you find a Kiwi or Aussie, whatever the country they wake up in on the 25th April, there will be a solemn silence as they remember.  It is when we hold our collective breath and hold back a tear.

There will be no big brass bands, no triumphant, chauvinistic bombastic speeches.

On this day there are thousands of young Australian and New Zealand men and women on the beaches, cliffs and gully’s at Gallipoli.  It is their silence that deafens you at these services.

There will be a lonely, mournful bugle call, a collective tightening of the throat is all that can be heard from those assembled.

This day we pause to remember our shared past and offer each other our support.

This is what ANZAC means.  This is a living set of mate-ships in floods in Queensland, fires in Victoria and earthquakes in Christchurch, war and peace; at every level, this is mate-ship.  Who do you call when you are in distress?  No one.  They just arrive.

Many of you will be remembering family and friends today who served in past conflicts or you may have servicemen and women in your families currently deployed on overseas missions.

ANZAC Day is a time we think of family and we recognise the strain placed on the families of our service people; their partners and children who manage for long, lonely, anxious periods of time without their loved ones.

The birthdays missed, the school concerts, anniversaries, funerals of loved ones missed.  This cost to families is irreplaceable and enduring.

Our ANZACs and all who have served our countries will be held in our hearts and minds forever.  We do remember them.

We know we do not stand in the shadow of earlier generations but on their shoulders, the better to see the promised land.

No reira, tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa.

 

 

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