Speeches for commemorations

Use these sample speeches as a starting point to develop a script for Anzac Day. We encourage local communities to research a veteran who enlisted in, or was born in, their local area and to highlight their service in the speech. You could adapt them for use at other ceremonies, such as Remembrance Day.

Ideas for local content

You could include a story of someone from your community or school who served Australia during a global conflict or peacekeeping mission. When talking about the veteran, you could mention:

  • their links to your community
  • career before enlistment
  • service branch (air force, army, navy, nursing)
  • dates of service
  • age at enlistment
  • where they served overseas
  • whether they received any medals for bravery
  • whether they survived the conflict

Find defence service records

You can look for the war service records of someone born in your town, or who enlisted in the forces there. You might find a name on an honour roll in your school or town hall, or on a local cenotaph or memorial.

The National Archives of Australia holds war service records for people who have served in the Australian defence forces since Federation in 1901. The records are not all easily accessible, particularly where the individual is still alive. World War I records are all digitised. Some World War II records are too. For other conflicts, some records are held by the National Archives, but others remain in the Central Army Records Office.

Primary school sample speech for Anzac Day

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

We are here today to honour all Australians who have served our country in times of war. We do this today because the original Anzacs landed on the beach at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, more than 100 years ago. Since then, 25 April has been known as ‘Anzac Day’. Australians and New Zealanders take time on this day to remember those who served and to honour the sacrifices they made in our name.

A.N.Z.A.C. These five letters stand for the ‘Australian and New Zealand Army Corps’, and the men who were in that corps came to be known as ‘Anzacs’. In 1915, the Anzacs, together with British, Indian and French soldiers, were sent to fight on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. Australians from all backgrounds served during World War I. They wore the same uniform and shared the terrible experience of war. Their story, the Anzac story, is one that unites us.

There are many ways to honour people who have served in Australia’s armed forces. We can attend school services, like this one, wake up early for a dawn service or attend an Anzac Day march. We can also honour their service by wearing a poppy or a sprig of rosemary, as a symbol of remembrance.

As the ceremony ends you will hear a bugle play the Last Post. This piece of music was originally played in military camps to mark the end of each day and announce that all soldiers should be resting. In many memorial services, the Last Post symbolises that the duty of the dead is over and they can rest in peace. We will observe one minute of silence after the Last Post. During this time, you might like to close your eyes and think about all the men and women who have served Australia in times of war and conflict, and about those who have died.

Secondary school sample speech for Anzac Day

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

At around 4:30am on 25 April 1915, the first soldiers of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed in the Ari Burnu area on the Gallipoli Peninsula. On the same morning, soldiers from Britain, France and their colonies launched assaults at nearby Cape Helles and Kum Kale.

At the time, the Allies wanted to destroy the Turkish forts overlooking the Dardanelles so their ships could enter the Sea of Marmara and bombard Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire. They hoped this would force Turkey’s surrender, ease pressure on Russia and deprive Germany of a major ally.

Historians estimate that some 2000 Australians were killed or wounded on 25 April, but there are no precise casualty figures for that day. Corporal Jason Coulter of the 8th Battalion, originally from Ballarat, landed in the second wave with the 8th Battalion. Coulter wrote an account of the fighting in his diary in 1915:

Landed at Gallipoli Peninsula, Gaba Tepe, on Sunday 25th April under heavy shell and rifle fire. Got straight into action – and it was hell – God how the shells poured over us while the bullets from the enemy rifles poured into us – what a day of sorrow, men shattered to pieces and oh the sight and the sorrow – poor fellows left out on the field to die all through a wet cold night – many missing this morning, officers dead … God knows how many left tonight but we must go on and on till we beat them.

Like many of the Anzacs, Jason Coulter did not survive Gallipoli. He died of gunshot wounds on 10 August 1915.

For eight months, the Anzacs hung on to their positions on the ridges and gullies above Anzac Cove. They could not go forward but the Turks could not force them back into the sea.

In December 1915, the Anzacs were evacuated. By then, about 8700 Australians and 2700 New Zealanders had been killed. In total, at least 130,000 Allied and Turkish soldiers died as a result of the Gallipoli Campaign.

When the Anzacs arrived in France, the war on the Western Front had long been in stalemate. The opposing armies faced each other from trench systems that extended across Belgium and north-east France, from the English Channel to the Swiss border. Machine-guns and artillery favoured defence over attack. In the final months of the war, commanders like Australia’s Lieutenant General Sir John Monash, successfully used a combination of artillery, aircraft, tanks and infantry to make significant breakthroughs. Their actions hastened the end of the war against Germany. Of all the Australians who died during the First World War, around 80% were killed on the Western Front.

More than 3000 Australian nurses served Australia during World War I. They worked under terrible conditions, and 25 lost their lives. The women worked in hospitals, on hospital ships and trains, or in casualty clearing stations close to the front line. For many wounded soldiers, there was no more welcome sight than a skilled nurse who would tend their injuries and who could speak to them in their own accent about home. The nurses’ devotion for the sick and wounded in their care was universally admired by soldiers. An Australian officer, Lieutenant Harold Williams, who was wounded on the Western Front in September 1918, reflected:

That these women worked their long hours among such surroundings without collapsing spoke volumes for their will power and sense of duty. The place reeked with the odours of blood, antiseptic dressings and unwashed bodies. The nurses saw soldiers in their most pitiful state – wounded, blood-stained, dirty.

We also remember all those who contributed on the home front, supplying material and moral support to the Australians serving overseas. The sacrifices made by families who cared for their loved ones who returned home with physical injuries and mental illness should also be remembered. For them, the effects of the war often lasted for decades. Their work was usually carried out in the privacy of the family home and they received no public recognition or reward.

For historian Charles Bean, the word 'Anzac' stood for ‘… reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship, and endurance that will never own defeat’. These qualities of the original Anzacs who landed on 25 April 1915 can also be seen in the service of those who came after them in the Second World War, Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, in recent conflicts like Afghanistan and Iraq, and on peacekeeping operations like those in the Solomon Islands and East Timor. Anzac Day is a day to remember all those who have served in Australia’s armed forces for more than a century.

Last updated: 6 November 2020

Cite this page

DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) (2020), Speeches for commemorations, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 24 February 2021, http://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/commemoration/event-planning/speeches
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