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2016 Australian of the Year David Morrison reflects on ANZAC Day
As a soldier, albeit one who has now retired, there is a long line of servicemen and women that connects me to those who stormed ashore at Gallipoli 101 years ago. That line is formed by names such as Villers-Bretennoux, Tobruk, El Alamein, Kokoda, Kapyong, Long Tan, Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. It is made whole by the names on the roll of honour of our War Memorial - over 100 000 of our fellow citizens who in the ultimate act put service before self in our Nation’s name.
And there is a line, too, that connects all of us to those who lived in this Country 100 years ago. It is formed by the lives and hopes of millions of Australians who have lived since then. It is given physical substance in the architecture of our cities and the agricultural endeavours of our pioneers. It is a line made more whole by our recognition of the first people of this land and our sorrow for their treatment. It is a line given colour and vibrancy by our cultural richness and diversity, drawn as it is from migrants from all corners of our world. It is a line rooted in our freedom of expression and of belief, and the affirmation of our democratic nation state.
That is why we remember them - the first ANZACs and all of those who have followed. They left us that legacy and we, in turn, commemorate their sacrifice when we ask what legacy we shall leave for those who follow us.
We have not forgotten and we are defined, at least in part, by that act of remembrance. It makes us who we are and reminds us of who we can be - if not one people then unified all the same, sharing human weaknesses but strong and resolute in the face of an unknown future, a people of our own time reaching back one hundred years but always looking forward.