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John Banks' ANZAC Speech

ANZAC DAY Speech notes: Hon John Banks QSO 11am Citizens’ Service The Cenotaph War Memorial Museum, The Auckland Domain

We remember, O God; We your people solemnly remember The wars we have endured; The killing, the grief, and the courage. For the evil that was done, We ask your pardon. For what was great and honourable We give you glory.

In the midst of war and terror, in the face of so much anxiety and trial, there is no greater assurance than the knowledge of the presence and love of God.

We are gathered here today to honour all our war veterans.

Anzac Day is a day to remember the cost of war, and a day to honour those brave souls who paid the ultimate cost.

On the morning of the 8th of August 1915 a former Auckland Grammar boy, Lieutenant George Tayler, witnessed the sun rise to another day of fighting – fighting for his life and fighting for his country.

Below the crest of Chunuk Bair, Lieutenant Tayler’s battalion was holding a line on Rhododendron Ridge.

Tayler’s battalion had for many hours been engaged in one of the most desperate struggles ever fought by Anzac troops.

The battalion’s solitary machine-gun was manned until all its crew were dead. There were no bombs left, and for rifle ammunition the troops had to rely on what each man had carried and what they could get from the dead.

The weather was appalling, the conditions atrocious.

Tayler and his fellow troops were weary almost to exhaustion.

Shortly following the arrival of mounted rifle reinforcements there began a violent succession of attacks by the enemy.

Hand grenades were coming over fifty at a time, with the enemy getting out of their trenches and advancing quickly. But by the end of that long day, the enemy’s massive effort had been beaten back.

Tayler and most of his troops however paid the ultimate cost.

Of the Battalion’s 760 young men who had captured the high ground, 690 were seriously injured or killed.

Although not one single solider throughout that unrelenting assault ever considered leaving his post.

It was about duty, sacrifice, commitment and patriotism - timeless ideals, the highest of ideals.

Their uniforms were torn, their arms and legs broken. They had had no water; they could only talk in whispers; their eyes were sunken; they trembled with shock; some broke down and cried.

Lieutenant George Tayler: a good son, a loyal comrade, a competent
and fearless soldier rests in an unknown grave... but today we remember him.

Of the 8,600 New Zealanders who fought on the Gallipoli Peninsula, almost one third, were dead by the time the allied forces withdrew. Many of the survivors then went on to the Western Front.

Over the past century 30,000 New Zealanders have lost their lives fighting for the freedom we so richly embrace in this our blessed country.

For that we remember. For that we give thanks.

New Zealand men and women have served us so bravely in wars including the Boer War, the first and second world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.

The names of our glorious war dead, our sisters, our brothers our heroes are inscribed on memorials in Asia, Europe and North Africa and the islands of the Pacific.

On this day of so many solemn memories, of pride and gratitude for what others have given for us, the most fitting, the most worthy, honour we can offer in their memory is to pledge ourselves to the same cause for which they paid the ultimate sacrifice.

We commend them with abounding thanksgiving.

Today we also commit ourselves to the elimination of war. After all, peace in our time was the eternal hope of those who went to war.

God, Our help in the past and our hope for the future, We commend to your care those who have died from war, And those who yet struggle for health and peace. As the sounds of battle die away May the comradeship live on And the memories of sacrifice Strengthen our resolve To strive for peace with justice.

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