Ben Roberts-Smith VC MG Australia Day Address
Monday 26 January, 2015
Welcome your Excellency, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to start by acknowledging the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the traditional custodians of the land we gather on this evening, and pay my respects to their elders past and present.
Just over 15 years ago I went on my first deployment with the Australian Army. I’d been trained as an Infantryman. A freshly-minted Rifleman, aged 20, I headed off to East Timor to serve with the multinational peacekeeping force led by Australia, with our now Governor-General as force commander.
For longer than I can remember, that’s all I’d ever wanted to do, all I’d ever imagined myself doing. Leave school, join the Army, and fight for my country. It was an uncomplicated, old-fashioned dream in lots of ways. And then all of a sudden it was real – here I was, part of the largest deployment of Australian troops since the Second World War.
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