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ANZAC Centenary

Thank you, Ambassador Beazley and Commodore Keating, for joining me here today.

This Saturday we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps landings at Gallipoli.  That sacred day, April 25, ANZAC Day, honors the bravery, the service, and the sacrifices made by Australians and New Zealanders – not just on the shores of Gallipoli – but in every major conflict since.

Having spent 27 years in the United States Marine Corps, I have studied that famous campaign – one of the first amphibious operations in the modern era.  It is truly an incredible story.  Despite difficult odds, the Australians and New Zealanders fought bravely for eight months, enduring immeasurable hardship.  Thousands of miles from home, they fought for something larger than themselves.  They fought to make this world better, safer, and freer. 

Over 10,000 Australians and New Zealanders lost their lives in the Gallipoli campaign.  The bravery and sacrifices of famed units like the Australian Light Horse and the Auckland Mounted Rifles – going over the top and charging the Turkish trenches over a no-man’s land swept by machine gun fire – has become the stuff of legend. 

Their bravery and the “ANZAC Spirit” continues to inspire us today, and I feel privileged to stand here with Ambassador Beazley and Commodore Keating to honor their sacrifice.

For over 60 years ago, American, Australian, and New Zealander troops have served far from home, risking their lives to ensure the safety and security of their countries, and advancing peace and stability around the world.  The partnership between the United States, Australia and New Zealand has led to rapid responses to the world’s worst threats and crises, no matter where they erupt. 

In channeling the tenacity of the Allied troops at Gallipoli, our partnership has served as a model, galvanizing others to participate in struggles around the world. In Afghanistan, our militaries have worked side-by-side for over a decade.  In West Africa, U.S. troops collaborated with Australian and New Zealander medical experts to overcome the scourge of Ebola. 

And now, in Iraq, both Australia and New Zealand have become invaluable partners in the international coalition against ISIL.  Proving – yet again – that our partnership is not bound by any particular geography, conflict, or adversary.  This acute sense of responsibility for global well-being has required no small sacrifice from the people of Australia and New Zealand, and we are grateful for your continued friendship.

Let me also recognize and thank the Pentagon team that put this impressive Centenary of ANZAC display together.  I encourage those that can to move from here in a few moments to the Pentagon Auditorium, where Ambassador Beazley will speak on the legacy of Gallipoli and subsequent conflicts.  

Before that happens, I have one more important duty to perform.   It gives me great pleasure to declare the Centenary of ANZAC Exhibition open.  Thank you.