Today has been the hundredth anniversary of the moment the Great War – now known merely as World War I – came to an end on November 11, 1918. And what I find depressing is how little regard there is for the lives and sacrifices made that century ago. It was probably ever thus. We fight our own battles in our own time. What our descendants will make of what we do a century from now is unknown, but almost certainly they will give us hardly a moment’s thought.
But that is no reason for us not to try to shape the future. There are many a pathway before us whose fulfilment I would not wish to bestow on anyone. Everywhere that totalitarian ideologies of every sort have taken hold they have left a bitter residue of poverty, misery and tyranny. That Australia remains one of the freest most prosperous and open societies the world has ever seen is the result of the countless men and women of the past who have left us the country in which we live, and the ethic of tolerance, independence and self-reliance upon which our social order depends. They have thrown the torch to us. To preserve what we have is part of the debt we owe to those who have come before.