On Anzac Day we commemorate the anniversary of Australian and New Zealand soldiers landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, 1915, during the First World War.
It was the start of an eight-month campaign where more than 50,000 Australians are estimated to have fought, some 8700 lost their lives and almost 18,000 were wounded.
It was the birthplace of the Anzac legend, where Australians forged a reputation for bravery, ingenuity and mateship that has become central to our national character. These are the traits we respect and honour in every man and woman who has served in defence of our nation.
This year we also continue to commemorate the role of the Australian troops on the Western Front with the Centenary of the Battle of Bullecourt in France and the Battle of Messines in Belgium. At Polygon Wood, near Ypres in Belgium, there will be a service commemorating the centenary of Australian involvement in the Third Battle of Ypres. We must never forget that more Australians lost their lives in 1917 due to war than in any other year of our history.
Later this year we will mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba in Israel.
This year also marks significant anniversaries from the Second World War. We have already commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Fall of Singapore and the Bombing of Darwin, and later this year we honour the Battle of the Coral Sea, Battle of Milne Bay, Australia’s involvement at El Alamein and the end of the Kokoda campaign.
On Anzac Day we also pay tribute to those members of the Australian Defence Force currently on active service overseas, including in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
So when you see someone wearing medals on the left-hand side of their chest, please shake their hand and say, ‘thank-you for your service’.
We owe our service personnel an immeasurable debt of gratitude. I encourage everyone to participate in their local Anzac Day commemorations and to say ‘thank-you’ to those who have served our country.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.