Thousands of miles from home, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps fought for something larger than themselves: their national identify and ensuring the world was safer and better, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said today during a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the enhanced exhibit in the Australia, New Zealand and United States Corridor at the Pentagon today.
The exhibit in the ANZUS Corridor marks the 100th-year anniversary, coming up April 25, of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Day -– also known as ANZAC Day -- when troops from both countries landed at Gallipoli in Turkey’s Dardanelles strait and met with fierce Ottoman Turkish defenders.
“It is a sacred day … throughout Australia and New Zealand that honors the bravery, service and sacrifices made by the Australians and New Zealanders, not just on the shores of Gallipoli,” Work said, “but in every major conflict since.”
Quoting the words of Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley, who opened the ceremony, “Although [Gallipoli] was a failure in the operational sense, it is a story of just incredible bravery, courage and sacrifice,” the deputy defense secretary said.
ANZAC Fought Bravely
Despite the difficult odds the Australians and New Zealanders faced on the beach and in that area, Work added, they fought bravely for many months and endured hardships almost impossible to imagine.
The ANZAC troops charged the Turks, who were entrenched with machine guns and rifles with bayonets, Work said.
“Over 10,000 brave soldiers from Australia and New Zealand lost their lives in those months,” the deputy defense secretary said. “It’s almost impossible for us to imagine that scale of loss today, but as [Beazley] said, that campaign was not even the bloodiest of World War I.”
For more than 60 years since that time, the United States, Australia and New Zealand have served far from home together, risking their lives to ensure the safety and security of their countries, Work said.
U.S., Australia, New Zealand Fight Together
“[The three nations worked to] advance peace and stability throughout our world,” he added. “The [partnership] between our three countries has led to rapid responses to the world’s worst threats, no matter where they erupt.”
And because of the ANZAC troops’ tenacity, bravery and courage at Gallipoli, their later partnership with the United States has served as a model for nations, “galvanizing [them], we believe, to participate in struggles around the world for freedom,” Work noted.
The partnership has covered the globe. In Afghanistan, all three of militaries worked side by side for more than a decade, and in West Africa, they worked to battle Ebola, the deputy defense secretary said.
Working to Defeat ISIL
“And now in Iraq, the Australian and New Zealand [troops] have become invaluable partners in the international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant -- proving that yet again, although we are separated by a broad ocean -- we are very close and not bound by any particular geography or conflict or adversary,” Work said.
The acute sense of global responsibility that the three countries have reflected well upon all of them and their fighting men and women in all of our services, he added.
“We’re all grateful for the continued leadership and partnership that we have with Australia and New Zealand,” Work said.