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Today marks 100 years since the start of the First World War.
A century on, Australia has not forgotten the sacrifice that was made for our country.
We have not, nor will we, forget those who served and died.
The First World War was the crucible in which our nation was forged.
C.E.W. Bean has said that those who sailed for war left “a nation that did not yet know itself”. In 1914, we were a young nation with a flag and a parliament, but little sense of nationhood. The baptism of fire that was World War I changed that.
Just about every Australian was touched by the war.
From a population of just under five million, 417,000 enlisted: 332,000 served overseas; 152,000 were wounded and 61,000 never came home.
Of the men aged 18 to 42, almost one in two enlisted and, of those who served overseas, almost one in five were killed in action. Of the 270,000 who returned, more than half were wounded and many more quietly carried the psychological scars and trauma until the end of their days.
Over the next four years, Australians will commemorate the Centenary of Anzac.
We will remember the role that the First Australian Imperial Force played, not just in the Dardanelles Campaign, but elsewhere in that terrible conflict.
Our nation will remind itself of the sacrifice, valour and dreadful triumph that was the Western Front. It was absolute carnage. It was also the time, more than any other in history, that Australia and Australians shaped the world.
The Centenary of Anzac will demonstrate that we are a country of memory as well as memorials.
The Government is supporting the activities of local communities, state and territory governments and Australian citizens across the nation throughout the Anzac Centenary.
As we remember the fallen, so too must we remember those who returned from war, often wounded or ill, and the families who cared for them in the months and years that followed.
We hope all Australians will participate in the commemorations.
In particular, we hope parents will participate in school and community commemorations with their children and talk to them about the sacrifices and values that define us as Australians.
On this the centenary of the Declaration of War, Australia remembers the courage of those who sacrificed so much for our country.
We will remember them.