Julie delivered the ANZAC Address for the 2015 Mt Roskill War Memorial service, 25th April 2015, 100 years after the landings at Gallipoli.
The 45% of the then adult male population of Aotearoa New Zealand who went to fight in World War I. They were called by what was still then thought of as Home, Mother England, to fight for King and Country on land a very long way away.
The 13 men from this community who never came home, who we remember this day with the 13 white crosses that bear their names, as part of the national Fields of Remembrance. In 1915, a hundred years ago, Mt Roskill was a small mainly rural community. You can see from the names some families lost several members, and the impact of these thirteen deaths would have been significant – lost brothers, fathers, sons, husbands; lost hopes for those left behind.
Those who did come home; the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, the nurses; the injured, the scarred; those who shared their stories, those who could never talk of it.
Those from other nations who fought at Gallipoli, hailing from Australia, France, the Pacific Islands and African colonies. There were many Indian troops on the Peninsula, and some of our South Asian community who have more recently migrated to Mt Roskill will have had ancestors who fought with the other commonwealth troops.
The Turks, who were fighting on their own land, to defend their own country. More than 80,000 Turks died at Gallipoli.
The spirit of grace and forgiveness that some can find after war.
The 1934 words of Ataturk, Turkey’s first president, carved in stone at ANZAC Cove:
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
Those who remained at home; the invalids, the Home Guard, the providers of essential services, the women stepping into male roles for the first time, the conscientious objectors, those too young or too old to go. The burden they must have borne, not only in keeping the home fires burning, but also the hope of the post and the dread of the telegram, the sense of uncertainty.
The conflicts before and since; among them the Second World War, the Land Wars, the Boer War, wars in Vietnam, Korea, the Middle East, Afghanistan, and more.
The 50 million people worldwide displaced from their homes by wars and conflict right now, particularly from Syria, Afghanistan, Palestine and Somalia.
The people of Mt Roskill who have come here for generations to make a better life, some as refugees from conflicts in their homelands, others in the aftermath of wars that destroyed their homes and livelihoods.
The horrors of war, the suffering of soldiers and civilians.
The Gallipoli peninsula as it is today, windswept, unwelcoming. When I visited in 2006 the sense of loss was palpable. It was cold and barren, the impression of trenches still clear, as if the land were so affected by the battles that it had not yet recovered nearly 100 years later. Much as Gallipoli shaped our nation for decades to come.