A Speech given by the Governor at the Melbourne Legacy 88th Annual ANZAC Commemoration Ceremony for Students
First, I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we are gathering and pay my respects to their Elders past and present and to any Elders here with us this morning.
This morning, there are some 3000 young students gathered here.
As my husband and I walked down the forecourt of this Shrine upon our arrival, it warmed our hearts that we were walking amongst our future leaders.
Our future everything. Our teachers, parents, politicians, homemakers, builders, scientists. Our authors, cooks, shopkeepers, innovators, footballers and farmers. That’s all of you. Our future.
I have no doubt that in 1914, if Victoria’s Governor of the day, Sir Arthur Stanley, walked amongst a similar number of young Victorians, he would have felt just the same.
He and his wife would have looked at the sea of young faces around them. They would have felt the same sense of promise. Realised that they were looking into Victoria’s future.
But, by the time they left the role - just 6 years later - so much of that promise had been lost.
Across those years, World War 1 had taken its massive toll on our young people. Their future – our future – had been dramatically interrupted.
As a country, we lost more than 60, 000 in that war. Around 156, 000 were badly wounded or taken prisoner.
Of the 3000 young Victorians Governor Stanley would have walked amongst, one in five would have been lost.
Can you imagine that? It’s hard to, isn’t it?
Just as it’s hard to imagine up to 6 brothers from one family never coming home. Or the country towns that lost a generation of young men. The lost loves. The decimated cricket and footy clubs.
The heartache. The shattered dreams. All that promise …. lost.
This Shrine was built to remember them.
But soon enough it was remembering others.
As our families, communities, towns and cities recovered, the world erupted again in war. Between 1945 and 1949. More lives lost. More lives interrupted by injury. More sacrifice of the promise in a generation of our young people.
Since then, thousands of brave and dedicated Australians have continued to serve in global conflicts and in peace-keeping duties.
I am conscious that for some of those here today, no description by me of the sacrifice made by our service men and women can do justice to what they themselves have experienced.
Some have seen active duty and experienced the heat – and the aftermath – of battle.
Some have lost loved ones and friends.
In every instance, it is important that we express our gratitude.
It is important that we understand the significance of ANZAC Day and the occasions on which we, as a nation, come together to say ‘thank you’ for all that the men and women of our Defence Force do for us. For all that they risk. For how much they enable each of us to reach and fulfil our own promise.
And, in return, our promise should be to do our best, to give back to our communities. To absolutely fulfil our potential.
And, finally, it is important today to reflect upon and to thank Legacy for its continuing work in caring for the families of veterans who have lost their lives or lost their health.
Their kindness and care reminds us of how much has been given by so many.
We are reminded too of all those who continue to serve, and those on active duty as I speak.
And it is for these reasons that we say that we shall not forget.