President Update – 25 April 2020

Dear Members,

Today marks 105 years since the very first ANZACs heroically stormed the beaches of Gallipoli and the ANZAC Spirit was born.

As people across our nation, and many nations around the globe pay their respects for our brave servicemen and women, I invite you to watch my ANZAC Day Message and reflect on what ANZAC Day means to you and your family.

Lest we forget.

A transcript of the video message can also be found below.

 

Yours,

 

Ray James

Acting State President


 

Transcript

We gather across this great state of ours today to commemorate ANZAC Day 2020. These are unprecedented times for veterans, our community, our state, our nation and the world at large. Wherever you are this ANZAC Day, I want you to remember those who fought and died, and those who have served and continue to serve our nation today.

I wish to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are now on, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. I pay my respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

To all Australians, ANZAC Day is a tradition, paid for in blood and cherished 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 the opportunity to invigorate our national spirit and pride.

105 years ago the ANZAC tradition was born on the shores of Gallipoli during the First World War. It was where the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps forged a legend of mateship, determination, courage and resourcefulness. In total 36,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers were killed or wounded at Gallipoli.

Today is also about remembering all our service personnel who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the campaigns of the Boer War, First World War, Second World War, Korean War, Malayan Emergency, Indonesian Confrontation, Vietnam War, Iraq, Afghanistan and peacekeeping operations.

This year particularly we commemorate 75 years since the campaigns in Europe and the Pacific ended with the end of WWII. A war in which this whole nation rose again to the challenge and saw war come to our shores. My father, an infantryman, served in some of the ferocious battles. The physical and mental scars would haunt him for many years after the war had ended.

Still today our Australian Defence Force is involved in various operations across the world. Some of these ensuring people less fortunate than us can live in peace, others involved in providing humanitarian and aid assistance, and others who are assisting in combat operations or training every day to ensure that our citizens are kept safe abroad and at home.

Even this year we have seen our defence force members serve alongside our civil authorities during the bushfires that ravaged our state and nation, and saw the loss of brave men and women who were serving in the Rural Fire Service.

Now with the COVID-19 pandemic our defence force members have stood up to serve alongside the health workers, the doctors, nurses, paramedics and our police. There are others who the prime minister has called essential workers who are holding open our supply lines and stores. The community as well is doing its bit to prevent the loss of lives.

Many of you are saddened that ANZAC Day services could not be held the way they normally are. The last time services were suspended was in 1919 when we were dealing with the last great pandemic.

I am proud of how veterans have understood what needed to be done. They have realised that the welfare and safety of the community as a whole is important. Just because we cannot gather together at our traditional ANZAC Day services, does not mean that we don’t remember and commemorate those who fought and died and those who served. We are as one doing what our forefathers did on the hills at Gallipoli. We are uniting together to fight this threat.

Veterans and families across Australia have lost jobs and will find the next year so tough. Our nation will struggle, but I believe that we will recover. We will rise to rebuild and we will commemorate ANZAC Day as we always have in years to come.

Let us remember today the more than 102,000 Australians who have lost their lives whilst serving our nation.

Let us also think of those who returned from war and conflict and have battled everyday to readjust to life in our society.

I have seen the growing need to support our veterans. It is tragic that so many veterans have battled depression and post traumatic stress. We need to support all veterans who are struggling to have courage to speak up. In this time of isolation, I ask all those veterans and families who can to make a call to a veteran and a war widow who are struggling at this time, especially being in isolation during this pandemic.

The ANZAC Spirit is one that should flow through all of us. It is one of courage and mateship. It is one that shows us that we need to look after everyone and each other. It is what is helping our nation to fight this pandemic.

What is important about commemorations like ANZAC Day is the values that we see in those who served. Listening to or watching stories of veterans you will hear the tales of friendship and mateship. The stories of good times and funny times that happened during their service. The shared experience of putting on a uniform. It is not about the glory of war. My own service was filled with some great stories of lifelong friends and mates who I served with.

ANZAC Day 2020 will be remembered in a different way for all of us. We may not be physically standing next to our mates or our family this year. But we have them in our hearts and in our thoughts. We can still commemorate the supreme sacrifice made by so many. We should also call up those who we know in our families and the community who are veterans and have a chat today. Perhaps you can even do a video call. Remember it is a time to pause and reflect together as a nation.

The legacy of the ANZAC is with us here today. Forever we will be indebted to those who fought and served our nation. We will remember them.

Lest We Forget.

Suggested Reads
This week is National Reconciliation Week 2020, which we would normally mark with the Indigenous Veterans’ Commemoration Service.   More
29 May 2020
Mr. Harry Allie BEM, Chair of the NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Commemoration Coordinating Committee shares a message paying respects to our indigenous veterans.   More
29 May 2020
This newsletter includes information on the draft strategic plan consultation, the RSL national patron, a government veterans survey, and the RSL auxiliaries newsletter.   More
27 May 2020