Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ANZAC Day

I usually post something for ANZAC Day, one of our war commemorative days. I haven't this year and I am rather pleased that after the event, I can post a translation of the speech from the French village of  Villers Bretonneux by the Prime Minister of France, where Australia had such success in WWII but with an enormous loss of life.

Here is a copy and paste from The Guardian as reported.

Then the Frenchman went to the microphone with, it would seem, aggression in his heart and literature in his kitbag, launching himself into the crowd with a line from Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front: “He is entirely alone now with his little life of 19 years, and cries because it leaves him.”
Then he seized the high ground: “Coming here, seeing this centre and tower, looking at the names of the 11,000 Australians who died for France and for freedom, I could not help thinking of the terrible loneliness which these thousands of young Australians must have felt as their young lives were cut short in a foreign country.
“A foreign country. A faraway country. A cold country whose earth had neither the colour nor texture of their native bush. A faraway, foreign country which they defended, inch by inch, in Fromelles in the Nord region, in Bullecourt in Pas-de-Calais and of course here, in Villers-Bretonneux. As if it were their own country.
“And it is their own country. ‘The earth is more important to the soldier than to anybody else,’ continues Erich Maria Remarque, ‘the earth is his only friend, his brother, his mother. He groans out his terror and screams into its silence and safety’. For many young Australians, this earth was their final safe place. For many of them, this earth was the final confidante of a thought or a word intended for a loved one from the other side of the world.”
Somehow he wove in Francois I and the Chevalier Bayard with the hell of the trenches: “The mud, the rats, the lice, the gas, the shellfire, the fallen comrades.”
Men and women near me were crying.
We were gathered on a hill not far from Villers-Bretonneux to celebrate $100m spent on a high-tech temple to the memory of General Sir John Monash on the centenary of his victories in this stretch of France.
“Meticulous, wise and dogged,” Philippe called him and ventured the unthinkable at this time and in this place: Monash might have had peers. “This Australian engineer, with his unerring instinct, came to be hailed as one of the best Allied tacticians, on par with France’s Estienne and Britain’s Fuller.”

14 comments:

  1. The service at Villers-Bretonneux was wonderful, as it always is. I thought the French Prime Minister's speech was very moving...he certainly impressed me with his words. I also thought all who spoke, spoke well and from the heart.

    As I wrote in my own Anzac Day post on my blog, I watched coverage starting from before the crack of dawn....right through into mid-afternoon.

    My tears flowed most of the day.

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    1. Lee, what was endured is almost unimaginable to me. People do tend to be sincere on such an occasion.

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  2. Belated Anzac Day remembrance for all the fallen and their families.

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    1. Very gracious, Sandra.

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  3. That is a truly beautiful speech.

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    1. EC, and perhaps outdid any other speech at the occasion.

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  4. Beautiful speech.
    But I am offended at the money spent on this temple to war in "warfare tourism" when so many current vets are suffering consequences of their service.

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    1. Jayne, there should be room and funds for both. I too am not so convinced of the merits of war tourism. It doesn't take edifaces to remember and mourn.

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  5. Marvellous speech. I watched it on ABC telly then later watched and read the English on the bottom of the screen.

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    1. Margaret, I wondered how it was covered, so thanks.

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  6. That sounds like a pretty great speech, with much more heartfelt emotion. Far better than the pompous posturings and 'lest we forgets' given out here in Australia.

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    1. There were no "pompous posturings and Lest We Forgets" given out here in Australia, River.

      I watched the tributes, the commemorations from the crack of dawn through into mid-afternoon and later...and never once did I feel or sense anything as you describe.

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  7. A fine speech indeed. I can’t imagine any of the current Australian politicians matching it.

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  8. Poignant and heart swelling tribute to the horrible ways of war.

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