ANZAC Day celebrations at the French Embassy in 2013
The ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day commemorations, this year marking the 98th anniversary of the Gallipoli battle in which more than 10,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers lost their lives during the WWI, paid tribute to all Australian soldiers in all conflicts.
Following the commemorations, held around Australia from dawn, the Embassy of France in Canberra paid tribute before its own memorial monument to the Diggers by the placing of wreaths and the singing of the national anthems.
The statement below was made by the Ambassador of France, H.E. Mr. Stéphane Romatet, at this occasion:
Exactly one hundred years ago, our grandparents and great-grandparents built the future of their families with hope. Here in Canberra, the young Australian nation was laying the first stones of its new capital. In Europe, in April 1913, a peace treaty between the major powers ended the war in the Balkans.
Who could have, then, imagined this fatal chain of events that, from the summer of 1914, would lead to the bloodiest war in history?
Who would have thought that the youth of Australia, then a young and fledgling nation, would come to die on the shores of Gallipoli and in the trenches of Fromelles and Villiers-Bretonneux?
It will soon be a century since the reminder of these sacrifices has haunted our memories. Our responsibility and duty is to keep this memory alive. Firstly, in tribute to the fathers of our fathers and great-uncles who did not return from the battlefields of Europe. Secondly, out of respect for the soldiers of our armies pursuing the peacekeeping of our ancestors and who, unfortunately, continue to pay the price of blood.
Today I think intently of my grandfather, an artillery officer and later air force officer who fought continuously from 1914 to 1918. I also, this afternoon, think of an Australian gentleman I met in Perth who urged me to help recover the memory of his father, made prisoner and executed on the western front.
I remember the recent visit to Canberra by the Pozieres City Council, a city engraved on this monument, who came to commune at the War Memorial and who has not forgotten, even after nearly 100 years, what it still owes Australia and her soldiers.
I thank you, General Hurley, for your attendance today and remember the 39 Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
I also thank you, General Parlanti, for having especially come from New-Caledonia; today we have a special thought for the French soldiers recently killed in operations in Mali.
It is this chain of memory that we continue today before the French-Australian Remembrance Monument.
Together, we remember, we commune. And to the dead soldiers of past and present who haunt our minds, we say to them: lest we forget.
Last updated: 25/04/2013