2019 Dawn Service Address

The Hon. Daniel Andrews MP

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In preparing for the honour of addressing you today, I thought it best to speak to a group of dear friends. Members of my local RSL Sub-Branch in Noble Park. Proud Veterans and people I deeply respect.

I asked them: On this day – and with this platform – what message did they want me to send? In response, they told me their stories. Stories of service and sacrifice – wounds and battles – remembrance and responsibility. How they were thrown together by circumstance, and forever connected by service. They told me about their families. Mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, children and grandchildren. The people in their lives they love the most. People who they say, ‘deserve a medal of their own’. And they asked me – asked all of us – to take care of the next generation. The next generation of servicemen and women. The next generation of Anzac. Because as one wise old warrior told me: ‘we won’t be around forever’.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is their stories and their wisdom that confirm why we are all here, and what we all must do. It’s the answer to the questions that linger in the moments before dawn. How can we possibly thank so many for giving so much? How can we honour those who gave their future that we might enjoy safety and security in ours? How do we express supreme gratitude to those who made the supreme sacrifice? The answer is as simple as it is powerful: Stand here at this hour in this still, dark, sacred place and remember them.

Remember that they came from every corner of Victoria and Australia, every walk of life, every background. United in their comradery, duty and courage. Courage forged from the conviction that freedom, liberty and democracy must be defended. A conviction that together, united, good would triumph over the evils of oppression and tyranny.

Remember too the fallen. Remember those who served and came home to a grateful nation. Remember others who returned without the respect and recognition they were owed. Remember all who carry the wounds of battle and who long after the healing, still battle the demons of conflict. Remember those who with skill and compassion care for the wounded. Remember those who serve in the defence of our freedom – this day and all days. Ready at a moment’s notice to put our safety above their own. Remember their families – for they make it all possible. Remember too those who fight for the men and women who’ve fought for us, serve and have served for us –the advocates, the champions of justice for our Veterans and their families. Remember them all with solemnity, respect, reverence and gratitude.

But perhaps above all, remember, that in everything we do: It is for us, each and every one of us, to prove worthy of their service and sacrifice. Worthy in remembrance. Worthy in valuing the freedoms they secured for us. Worthy in the decisions we make to send our servicemen and women into harm’s way. Worthy in the support we provide to our Veterans and their families. Worthy in our individual and shared commitment to equality, inclusion and harmony. Our values. Our precious way of life.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let us all remember and cherish what we have been given. The greatest of gifts secured at a still greater price.

Lest We Forget.