ARARAT - The guest speaker at this year's Ararat Anzac Day service paid tribute to the Australians who have served in theatres of war over more than 100 years.
Formerly of Ararat, Vice Admiral Russ Shalders, AO, CSC, RAN, joined the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay in 1967 and was Chief of Navy from 2005-2008.
Speaking in front of hundreds of people at the Ararat service, Vice Admiral Shalders said on this day 99 years ago on the other side of the world from their young countries a small group of Australians and New Zealanders created the legend that was to become Anzac.
He said the legend was born in a tragic campaign which began at dawn on April 25 1915 on the beaches of the Gallipoli peninsular.
"Anyone who has stood on north beach at Gallipoli as it is lit by the rising sun looking up at Chunuk Bair .... and at the other rugged hills and ridges above that rocky shore cannot but help that feel that the place is still inhabited by the ghosts that fought and died there," he said.
Mr Shalders said those who fell during the initial landing and in the terrible eight months which followed live on forever more and of course are remembered each Anzac day.
"Modern day visitors to Anzac Cove, to the steep gullies leading from North Beach and in the hills above at places like Lone Pine, Hill 60 and The Nek will tell you that they feel the ghosts rise from the ground. It is an evocative place, a place of tragedy and yet a place of hope and strength," he said.
"I've been there and I've felt those emotions. As Chief of Navy in 2006 I had the privilege of reciting the ode at the dawn service at Gallipoli, a memory which returns strongly to me each Anzac day and which will live with me forever."
Mr Shalders said those young Anzacs were the sons of a young country, were the sons of Ararat and the surrounding district.
He said the legend and the tradition that they created was one of triumph against the odds, of courage and ingenuity in terrible adversity, it is the legend of free and independent spirits, untold bravery and unimaginable sacrifice.
"In countless commemorations across Australia during the course of this Anzac Day in small country towns such as Ararat, and in the major cities, Australians will gather today to remember those who died and pay tribute to those who served.
"We recall their service over more than a century, in the Boer War, the carnage and brutality of the Great War, during World War Two which was even more terrible. We recall Malaya, Borneo, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf wars, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We remember our Australian Defence Force who continues to serve our nation even today. We still have troops deployed in Afghanistan and many parts of the Middle East on long running peace keeping missions.
"Soldiers, sailors and airmen and women continue to patrol our borders as they serve in our national interests. They continue the tradition of service and sacrifice which their forebears began so long ago. They do it with pride and they, like all who have served, remain conscious that they uphold and strengthen the heritage which began that dawn on that remote and rocky shore at Gallipoli so long ago.
"As we remember those who have died and reflect upon their sacrifices for a young and vibrant nation, each of us in our own way solemnly honours and respects our servicemen and women. They and all those who have served have earned our respect of their deeds, their actions and their sacrifices.
"We honour our war dead today as we always have and we always will."