Taree High School Captains Madeline Heron and Eden Gonfond delivered a touching commemoration address at this year's main service in Taree. Below is a copy of their words.
On the 25th of April, 1915, soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula in North-Western Turkey. They fought fearlessly in an attempt to remove Turkey from the First World War, but were instead caught in a horrific and bloodstained stalemate. Not until January 6th, 1916 were these soldiers withdrawn, and in that ill-fated, nine month Gallipoli campaign, 8709 Australian, and 2721 New Zealand soldiers gave their lives in battle.
On ANZAC Day we commemorate and honour these brave young men. In the 99 years that lie between that grim day and this gathering, the ANZAC spirit has come to represent more than those soldiers. It has come to represent the courage, bravery, ferocity, sacrifice, and mate ship displayed by these men, and is a symbol that represents all Australian and New Zealand soldiers serving both past and present. It has become a deeply ingrained heritage to our nation, and one we must be mindful of upholding. This year on ANZAC Day, we also commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of World War I, and extend our reverence to all those involved in the First World War. Since World War 1, Australians have fought in many conflicts, including World War 2, engagements in Korea and Vietnam and the Gulf War. Australians have served in peace-keeping forces in places such as Timor and the Solomon Islands and Australians are currently serving in Afghanistan. Australian men and women serve their nation with pride, in the cause of liberty and freedom, and it is they who most boldly continue the ANZAC legacy. Madeline will now read a poem which describes the spirit of ANZAC displayed by ANZACs throughout our history.
The poem “A Tribute to ANZAC DAY” was written by Ken Bunker and describes some of the experiences of Australian soldiers at war.
With their hair a little whiter, their step not quite so sure
Still they march on proudly as they did the year before.
Theirs were the hands that saved us, their courage showed the way
Their lives they laid down for us, that we may live today.
From Gallipoli's rugged hillsides, to the sands of Alamein
On rolling seas and in the skies, those memories will remain.
Of airmen and the sailors, of Lone Pine and Suvla Bay
The boys of the Dardenelles are remembered on this day.
They fought their way through jungles, their blood soaked desert sands
They still remember comrades who rest in foreign lands.
They remember the siege of old Tobruk, the mud of the Kokoda Trail
Some paying the supreme sacrifice with courage that did not fail.
To the icy land of Korea, the steamy jungles of Vietnam
And the heroic battle of Kapyong and that epic victory at Long Tan.
Fathers, sons and brothers, together they fought and died
That we may live in peace together, while at home their mothers cried.
When that final bugle calls them to cross that great divide
Those comrades will be waiting when they reach the other side.