Monday, January 26, 2009

And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

I have nothing but respect for soldiers. I think things are worth fighting for. I don't like war, but sometimes we gotta.
"And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" is a song, written by Eric Bogle in 1972, describing the futility, gruesome reality and the destruction of war, while criticising those who seek to glorify it.
Tim Blair
(Private Greg Sher, deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Commando Regiment, served with the Special Operations Task Group. He was killed in a Taliban rocket attack on 4th January, 2009. Greg’s brother Steven wrote this piece.)

AUSTRALIA Day, and its annual attempts to define what it means to be Australian, formerly saw us subject to clich├ęs about barbecues, beer, beaches and bronzed bodies.

We now live in a different time. (continue reading at link)
From Kevin Andrews
15th Annual Menzies Community Australia Day Awards

Opening Address
Function Centre, Manningham City Council, Doncaster
Australia Day 2009

May I welcome you to this 15th annual Menzies Community Australia Day Awards.
We gather today as Australians to celebrate our nationhood. It was on this day in 1788 that Captain Arthur Phillip unfurled the Ensign at Port Jackson, beginning the European settlement of this continent.

As we celebrate this occasion, we also recognise that this land has been home for the indigenous people, in this region, the Wurrundjeri, for tens of thousands of years.

What we celebrate - and how we celebrate it - helps to define our culture: who we are as a people, what we value in our history, and where we want to go in the future.

So we honour today, not just the foundation of this nation, but the character of our people - and what could be called “the human dimension of citizenship.”

Those whom we will honour shortly have played their role in a variety of ways and in a multitude of organisations.

Central to each of them is a profound sense of responsibility to others around them and to the community.

We Australians are, in many respects, a modest people. Our pride in our nation is real. Overt nationalism is not a part of our character; but it would be a mistake to confuse our quiet pride in this country and its people for a lack of interest in each other and the future of Australia.

Our western, liberal civilisation is the product of two great philosophical ideas about society, each complementing the other, yet often in tension.

One is the Aristotelian concept of man as a political animal: the other the concept propounded by Moses Ben Maimon of man as a social animal.

As Jonathon Sacks writes:
Man as political animal creates the institutions of political society: states, governments and political systems. Man as social animal creates the institutions of civil society: family, friendships, voluntary associations, charities, congregations and moral traditions.

It is the latter which we celebrate today as we honour many people who have helped to build up the civil society in which we live.

Today we celebrate citizenship of Australia. It is an often remarked upon and well-known fact that we are a nation of immigrants, either personally or through our families. Many Australians, like me, can trace their presence here to the great wave of immigration in the 19th century. Others, including many people here today, came in the 20th century; and many more will come this century.

When we invite people to this country, we invite them to citizenship of the Commonwealth of Australia: to become part of one people, sharing one continent, enjoined to one destiny.

To be a citizen is not only a legal concept: it is an embrace of the values we share; and a commitment to the social cohesion of this nation.

It entails responsibilities as well as rights; it implies tolerance of others as well as freedoms; it acknowledges respect for the democratic institutions of Australia.

None of this implies that people should not celebrate their cultural backgrounds. Indeed such celebrations and traditions have added to the rich tapestry of Australian life.

We call Australia the ‘lucky country.’ This term, which was originally penned as an ironical expression, has come to reflect what we know is true: We truly live in the ‘lucky country.’

But the natural advantages of this continent have also been matched by the courage, perseverance and creativity of our people, not the least in their service to others.

So today we celebrate as Australians the great blessing we have in this nation,; we re-dedicate ourselves to making it an even better place for our families and communities; and we acknowledge those people who have made outstanding contributions to the service of their fellow men and women.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The recipients of these awards represent a wide cross-section of our local community. They come from all walks of life, from different backgrounds, with different life stories, different interests, and no doubt different ideas about a range of issues – but each has, in a unique way, contributed to the good of their fellow citizens and the building of our community.

It is in such ways that our nation is built.

Australia will be what we are.

As I am privileged to move around this vast continent, I am impressed by the practical resourcefulness of our people to meet whatever challenge comes our way.

So today is a day to celebrate: to recall our history, to re-commit ourselves to the common good, and to continue to build a great nation.

We congratulate each of the recipients of these awards. We thank them for their efforts and encourage them to continue their work.
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