25 April 2012, Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, Turkey
They were strangers in a strange land.
Men who came from "the ends of the earth" in an enterprise of hope to end a far-off, dreadful war.
But it was not to be.
Even at dawn, the shadows were already falling over this fate-filled day.
Here on these beaches and hills, so foreign and yet so familiar, a skilled enemy lay in wait, led by a man destined to become a great leader.
A world of war was described in the mortal struggles of a million men on the narrow confines of this peninsula.
For the allies, this was a battle of nations fought by great powers and the might of their empires for a wider strategic goal.
For the Turks, this was a defence of the soil and sanctity of home, for which Ataturk ordered his men not only to attack but to die.
And the men who fought here from our nation, our allies and from Turkey did die – terrible deaths that spared no age or rank or display of courage.
Over 130,000 men gave their lives in this place, two-thirds of them on the Turkish side and 8700 from Australia.
So this is a place hallowed by sacrifice and loss.
It is, too, a place shining with honour – and honour of the most vivid kind.
A place where foes met in equality and respect, and attained a certain nobility through their character and conduct.
Eight months later, this campaign ended as it had begun – at dawn.
At 3.57 on December 20, 1915, the last Diggers quietly slipped away.
They did not begrudge the victory of their enemy, which was hard-fought and deserved.
They did share a regret greater than any defeat – having to leave their mates behind.
So the Australian and New Zealand commander, General Godley, left a message asking the Ottoman forces to respect the Anzac graves.
But no such invitation was required.
The Turkish honoured our fallen and embraced them as their own sons.
And later they did something rare in the pages of history – they named this place in honour of the vanquished as Anzac Cove.
We therefore owe the Republic of Turkey a profound debt.
No nation could have better guarded our shrines or more generously welcomed our pilgrims.
A worthy foe has proved to be an even greater friend.
Through Turkey's hospitality, we do today what those who left these shores most dearly hoped:
We come back.
As we will always come back.
To give the best and only gift that can matter anymore – our remembrance.
We remember what the Anzacs did in war.
And for what they did to shape our nation in peace.
In this place, they taught us to regard Australia and nowhere else as home.
Here where they longed for the shape and scent of the gum leaf and the wattle, not the rose or the elm.
Where they remembered places called Weipa and Woolloomooloo, Toowoomba and Swan Hill.
Or the sight of Mt Clarence as their ships pulled away from Albany, for so many the last piece of Australian soil they would ever live to see.
This is the legend of Anzac, and it belongs to every Australian.
Not just those who trace their origins to the early settlers but those like me who are migrants and who freely embrace the whole of the Australian story as their own.
For Indigenous Australians, whose own wartime valour was a profound expression of the love they felt for the ancient land.
And for Turkish-Australians who have not one but two heroic stories to tell their children.
All of us remember, because all of us inhabit the freedom the Anzacs won for us.
These citizen-soldiers, who came here untested and unknown, and who "founded a deathless monument of valour" through the immensity of their sacrifice.
This dawn will turn to darkness at the ending of today.
But the sun will never set on the story of their deeds.
Now and for all time, we will remember them.
Lest We Forget.