On Anzac Day Australians not only remember lives lost in war but national traits of fairness, humour and mateship, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has told crowds at the Gallipoli dawn service.
Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders descended on Anzac Cove in Turkey to attend the dawn service at the place where the Anzac legend was born more than 90 years ago.
The pilgrims honoured troops from both countries, who landed on the beach in the early hours of April 25, 1915.
More than 8,000 Australians died during the disastrous eight-month Gallipoli campaign.
National characteristics highlighted
Mr Smith told the crowd that every Anzac Day Australians came together to celebrate national characteristics that came to the fore at Gallipoli.
“Short moments on the beach, and long months in the trenches, in conditions of the greatest adversity have taken on profound significance over time – they now say something about our characteristic as a people and our spirit as a nation,” he told the solemn dawn service, held at the Anzac Commemorative Site.
“Every year now, as Australians throughout the world gather to commemorate Anzac Day and remember lives lost, we also celebrate our national characteristics, our values and our virtues.
“The great Australian notion of a fair go, of looking out for one\’s mates, of a sense of humour in adversity, and the sure and certain knowledge that however bad circumstances might be, there was always someone else worse off who needs a helping hand.”
Gallipoli had taken on “extraordinary” meaning for all Australians, he said.
“The soil on which we stand today has extraordinary significance for our people and our nation,” he said.
“It is a place of terrible loss, solemn memory and now immense national pride.”
Mr Smith paid tribute to the New Zealand soldiers who fought beside their Australian comrades, as well as the Turkish soldiers who repelled their advance.
“Here, on this peninsula, it is also impossible not to see that Gallipoli was a defining moment for the Turkish people and the Turkish nation as well,” he said.
“Over the years, Australians have come to learn much of the courage and sacrifice of the Turkish soldiers, often less well equipped than our own, who died defending their homeland.
“We have learned of the remarkable respect that grew between the soldiers who faced each other in battle across a line of trenches. We have seen that respect grow into a wider respect between our nations.”
Mr Smith, New Zealand Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand and representatives from the Turkish, British, French and other governments laid wreaths at the commemorative site.
Sir Anand said the deep bonds of friendship between Australians and New Zealanders, strengthened under fire in the Gallipoli campaign, continued to this day.
“The strength of the Anzac spirit is also evident in the goodwill of New Zealanders and Australians who have travelled to Gallipoli to commemorate those gallant soldiers who served and died here,” he said.
“Because of their service, few of us will ever be called upon to endure what they went through.
“That legacy is a mighty gift that we should always cherish.”