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ANZAC Day 2017

The Camp Hill community came out in force for this years ANZAC Day march and ceremony. Below is a copy of the exceptional speech by Captain Jeremy Fraser from the Royal Australian Artillery which provided some personal experiences of an Australian doctor who served in WW1.
Speech by
JD Fraser
'A' Battery JFT Comd 
1st Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery
Thank you for inviting me to give today’s address. Today of course marks the 102nd anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli and like hundreds of thousands of fellow Australians and New Zealanders who have gathered at memorials in cities, suburbs and towns, we have come here to commemorate one of the most significant events in our national calendar.
While the date of April 25th observes that ill-fated landing on a beach in the Dardanelles, the commemoration of Anzac Day recognises much more. As we continue through the Centenary years of World War 1, we remember the sacrifice of Australian and New Zealand soldiers at some of the bloodiest battles in human history. This year, for example, marks 100 years since the battles of Messines, Polygon Wood and Passchendaele. The latter is of some significance to me, as it was there that my great-grandfather Norman Mathews of the Australian Army Medical Corps, and also a Captain, endured a German gas attack while tirelessly evacuating casualties as part of the 4th Field Ambulance. He was awarded the Military Cross for his efforts, and eventually returned to Australia, before dying at the age of 40 as a result of respiratory complications. He was lucky he made it home at all – over 200 000 Allied soldiers fell at that battle.
Unfortunately the horrors of war did not leave us with the silencing of the guns on Armistice Day in November 1918. Today we also remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in wars across the world, in places such as Turkey, France, Palestine, North Africa, Malaya, New Guinea, Borneo, Korea and Vietnam just to name a few. We are also thankful for the service of those who deployed throughout the 20th century, especially those who did not come back the same.  
When I was still at primary school on Brisbane’s Northside, only a few years ago, it was difficult to understand why we were remembering such events. We enjoyed the benefits of peace and a relatively easy existence, and war was something that we, as Australians, had little cause to think of or worry about. However even in that short time we have seen thousands of Australian service men and women deploy around the world to places like Somalia, Rwanda, East Timor, Solomon Islands, Iraq and Afghanistan. The conflict that was previously consigned only to those older generations now burdens the generations of today. While we have professionalised our forces and reduced the yoke of service to willing volunteers, we are not immune to death and destruction. The sacrifice of today’s service men and women as they represent Australia around the world is yet another reason why we gather today.
In recent years we have seen an increase in the crowds that gather around our nation, a fact that amazes some commentators in our society. It seems that those who are surprised do not understand our national character, and the way that it comes to affect all those who settle in the country – regardless of background.  There is something very Australian in coming together for a cause. Much like our disposition to come together in adversity, such as natural disasters, it is a simple comradely gesture that flows from within us as humans, as Australians. Being Australian means we should have a deep conviction that there is a common good, and that freedom, peace and happiness are the right of all people. We must never decline the opportunity to defend this freedom, and more importantly, we must never forget the sacrifice of those who have died for this freedom.
With all the recent talk of Australian values, I think ANZAC Day provides a great illustration of the values which we should aspire towards as a country. Not only are these values seen in the courage, teamwork and sacrifice of men and women who have served our country, it can also be seen in the collective gratitude we the people of Australia express in quiet remembrance of the service of others and the ultimate sacrifice made by over 102 000 of our soldiers, sailors and airmen.
It is for this remembrance and gratitude that we have all gathered here today for, and as a modern custodian of the Anzac tradition, I thank you all for your attendance. Lest we forget.