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The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Veterans' Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC


24 April 2018

Speech — Opening of the Sir John Monash Centre

There’s an old saying in Australia that to truly understand another person’s life experience, you need to walk a mile in their shoes.

The Sir John Monash Centre gives us a chance to walk a mile in the boots of the young men who fought and ultimately repelled invading forces on the Western Front.

While we can never fully understand the fear, the trauma, the heartache - we can immerse ourselves in their stories and keep our promise to never forget their service and sacrifice.

The Sir John Monash Centre is a generous gift from this generation of Australians to the people of France.

But it is nothing in comparison to the gift that previous generations have given. Australians voluntarily gave their sons, their husbands, their brothers - to help win the freedoms that we all enjoy today.

They were all volunteers and they served with distinction on many battlefields in World War 1.

As those troops left Australia, more than 100 years ago to fight on foreign lands, they could never have known the challenges they would face and the sacrifices they would be forced to make.

They demonstrated courage, determination, patriotism and mateship in the most horrific circumstances imaginable.

At the end of the war, our grateful nations promised to never forget that service.

The Sir John Monash Centre is about keeping that promise.

As you walk a mile in their boots, here and across the Western Front, remember the soldiers, remember their families, remember the bonds our great nations have formed over the past century.

Remember also our modern day veterans and service personnel - they keep us safe in a challenging world.

Here at the Sir John Monash Centre, we will remember them.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Lest we forget.



Whil Prendergast: 0427 672 815
Office of the Hon. Darren Chester, Canberra ACT

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