100 years ago, at the end of war more deadly and more devastating than anyone could contemplate or imagine, Australia made a promise.
We made a promise to never forget the sons and brothers and husbands and sweethearts who never came home.
And we built memorials – around the country – to record the names of those we had lost.
62,000 young Australians – and they were so young. They had so much more life to lead, so much more to do and discover.
All that laughter and love and hope and dreams for the future swept away by the remorseless tide of war.
Those unfinished lives left a void in communities and a hole in families.
No town was untouched, no suburban street was spared.
And alongside the dead, there were those who came home wounded.
Or bearing the invisible scars of trauma, changed forever by what they had seen.
We all talk about the “guns falling silent” on this day 100 years ago.
But for so many who came home, the guns never went silent.
They echoed down the years, the memories, the fear, the trauma and the grief, the things they had seen and endured but could never explain, the invisible wall between them and their loved ones.
Today we remember the first Anzacs, their service and their sacrifice.
And we remember every generation that has followed, from the Second World War to Korea and Vietnam and the Middle East – all those still engaged in keeping the peace in our region and the wider world.
We remember their families, who also serve.
And we promise to do better as a country to help our Veterans with life after service.
We cannot repay the debt we owe them – but we must try.
We will remember them, Lest We Forget.