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Canberra, Tuesday 18 April, 2000: transcript of dedication of the Australian National Korean War Memorial.

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18 April 2000




KOREAN WAR MEMORIAL, CANBERRA E&OE …………………………………………………………………………………

Your Excellency, the Governor General of Australia, Sir William Deane, and Lady Deane, to Rear Admiral Crawford, to General Sir Thomas Daly and General Sir Frank Hassett, General Park the Commander of the Forces of South Korea in the Korean War, who I am delighted to particularly welcome here today, my ministerial colleagues, the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Mr Kim Beazley, the Leader of the Opposition, the returned men and women of the Australian Forces who fought in Korea, and all of our friends and visitors from overseas.

This is a solemn and special occasion, not only in memory of the three hundred and thirty-nine Australians who gave their lives in the Korean War, but also for the rest of the 17,000 members of the Australian Defence Force who served in that conflict that commenced fifty years ago this June.

It was a conflict fought in appalling conditions, of bitter cold and scorching heat. It was a conflict that saw military success, military defeat on occasions, but ultimately an honourable outcome. And once again in a line commencing with the great events of the Australian and New Zealand forces, on the shores of Gallipoli in 1915, the members of the Australian Defence Force upheld that great Australian military tradition.

It is a tradition that has never sought to impose its will or the will of this country on others, but merely to defend what is right. And so it was that when North Korea invaded South Korea in June of 1950, the response of the United Nations was rapid and Australia was amongst the very first countries to respond to the call of the United Nations, for the first time in our history, fighting under the flag of the United Nations.

And in that conflict at places such as Kapiong and Mariumsung, the fighting capacity and valour and steadfastness under fire, for which Australian forces have always been renowned throughout the world, once again was in evidence. It was to be a conflict that cost the lives of millions of people of Korea. But

out of that conflict, and out of the armistice that ended it, there grew a very powerful nation which has become a firm friend of Australia’s. And I am delighted to particularly acknowledge the presence here today of so many people from Korea and so many who’ve come from other countries to share in this very special occasion.

But most of all it is an occasion to honour those who sacrificed their lives. It is an occasion for me on behalf of the nation to express its gratitude and its honour and its respect to the 17,000 who fought in that conflict. This Korean War Memorial takes its place in Anzac Parade with the memorials of other conflicts in which Australians have risked, and sometimes too many, given their lives.

So on this beautiful Autumn morning in our national capital, can I say a very heartfelt thanks to those who gave so much fifty years ago. We remember you, we cherish what you have done, we will care for you and we will always honour what you have done in the name of Australia and in the name of the values of liberty and freedom that we all hold so dear.


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