Anzac Day 2018: Elizabeth Pike’s address focuses on youth

St Josephs Regional College school captain Elizabeth Pike gave the address at the Anzac Day March Service.

This is her speech:

Returned and active service men and women

Robert E. Lee, the Confederate General of the American Civil War, once wrote: “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know where it is today.”

Today, 100 years ago, at this very moment, soldiers of the Australian Army Corps Third Division were fighting their way through the streets of the French village of Villers-Bretonneox. In this village, on the third anniversary of ANZAC Day, the Australians stopped and repulsed the German Army’s last great attempt to break the Allies. This battle was the crucial turning point that would eventuate in Allied victory, and the end of the Great War.

Villers-Bretonneox was a great victory for the ANZACs. However, on the very same day, only three years earlier, the brothers, sons and fathers of Australia had fought and died in the futility and disappointment of Gallipoli. ANZAC Day and its spirit of selfless courage, resilience and perseverance had been born.

Over the following three years from 1915-1918 our men endured death, suffering, disease and starvation on the Western Front, yet the ANZAC spirit was un-diminished.

As the Australians marched towards Villers-Bretonneox in April 1918, Charles Bean, the Australian War Historian, recounted that “The effect of this spirit upon the French villagers was striking…They cried “Nos Australiens – Our Australians”, and told us that “now the Australians had arrived, they would not depart.”

In the midst of retreating defeated British troops, the Australians moved forward to face the battle, and the French villagers, uplifted by the ANZAC spirit, turned around and followed the Australians back to their homes. On the eve of ANZAC Day in 1918, our men drew inspiration from the spirit of ANZAC to launch a ferocious counter-attack at night which terminated the German Offensive and set the course for victory in the days to follow. The men of the Third Division fought for their mates, for Australia and for the ANZAC spirit.

The defeat of Gallipoli and the victory at Villers-Bretonneux are Australian hallmarks of the Great War that represent two sides of the same coin. They represent the price of war and of peace, and the duality of ANZAC Day as one of remembrance and one of celebration.

ANZAC Day reminds us of the debilitating loss of life and the horrific nature of war so that we may treasure, and defend at all costs, the peace, freedom and justice we have today, because of the ultimate sacrifices made by our fellow Australians who gave their lives and their future for us.

Regardless of victory or defeat, we are proud to commemorate battles such as Tobruk in North Africa, Kapyong in Korea, Long Tan in Vietnam and the Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan – the many places throughout our world in the last 100 years where the spirit of ANZAC has shone in the defence of human dignity and freedom.

We live in troubling times of political instability, foreign conflicts and prolific attacks on human rights. We live in a world divided by ethnicity, religion, culture and belief. There is no question that our future is uncertain, and that we will face great challenges in the years ahead. But as our fellow Australians have done before us, we will face these challenges together.

Article courtesy of Port News. Read Elizabeth’s full speech here:

Elizabeth Pike ANZAC Day speech

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