Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Centenary Celebration of the Burra and Districts Fallen Soldiers Memorial

I acknowledge the Ngadjuri people as the traditional custodians on the land on which we are gathering and pay my respects to the Elders.

Thank you Patricia Weira-Read - Aunty Pat - for your warm Welcome to Country, including your acknowledgement of the war service of Indigenous Australians.

I am honoured to join you all to commemorate the Centenary of the Fallen Soldiers Memorial here in Burra.

The memorial takes pride of place in a prominent thoroughfare.

And that is how it should be; an enduring mark of reverence and respect.

A poignant memorial to those who gave their lives to protect ours.

We gather here today exactly 100 years after others, including Prime Minister Billy Hughes, gathered at this very spot for the memorial’s dedication.

As then, we pay our deep respects.

I am also honoured to walk in the footsteps of one of my predecessors, His Excellency Sir Archibald Weigall, who, as Governor of South Australia had earlier laid the foundation stone, as Mike your RSL President has outlined.

This memorial is an important place where we can remember those who fought for us and did not return home, forever resting in far-off lands.

It is a place where each new generation can understand how our lives and fortunes have been shaped by the service of others.

Burra and district can be proud that its sons answered the call to arms.

The names of 102 of those who fell in World War I are etched on the memorial.

Sadly, the War to End all Wars didn’t bring lasting peace and World War II saw 22 more names added to the memorial.

These wars had immense ramifications for the district with more than 860 soldiers serving from this region which was still young, still developing.

Many here willingly shouldered the war effort on the home front, keeping communities together and ensuring farms and the wheels of industry continued.

Let us also remember that since then, locals have also served in Korea (2), Malaya (2) and Vietnam (11).

During my diplomatic career, I was regularly struck by the respect and appreciation that the people and leaders of many countries had for our valiant Australian service men and women.

Today, as we watch the news we are confronted by the brutality of armed conflict and the inhumanity which has forced people to flee their homeland in Ukraine, seeking safety and sanctuary.

Yet amongst the chaos of war, there are stories of courage, resistance, and resolve - both then and now.

And that brings hope.

Here at this memorial we can remember the mates we have lost, but it also provides a place where we as a community can personally reflect on and give thanks for their tremendous legacy, a legacy which enables us to live in the freedom they fought for.

In the spirit of that mateship, I congratulate the Burra RSL sub branch for its on-going support of veterans and their families.

Your understanding, community spirit and care helps heal the wounds that are physical and those that can’t be seen, locked inside people’s thoughts.

I thank the District Council of Goyder for its custodianship of the memorial and for plans to ensure it weathers the next 100 years.

I am looking forward later today to visiting more of Burra and reacquainting myself with its landmarks, and contributions to our State.

I am keen to visit many of our regional areas and meet the people who are making our State one of the most desirable places in the world to be.

I have been struck by the warmth of communities, the pride in regions and the determination to harness strengths and opportunities to build strong communities.

Already, I know I will find the same here.

Coming events