Official launch of 'St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane and the ANZAC Legend'
Mr Dean; Archbishop Aspinall, Dr Aspinall, and other church representatives including Moderator the Reverend Dr David Baker; Colonel Gunder, representing the Chief of Army, Commander McConnell, and the many services here tonight, of which I am most proud; representatives of the RSL and Legacy; other distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
May I express Kaye’s and my welcome to the many supporters of St John’s Cathedral, the Brisbane and South-East Queensland communities present here tonight.
And I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians, the Turrbul and Jagera people, with respect to elders – particularly significant for the belated acknowledgement of Indigenous participation in the war effort.
Together, now, we carry forward a tradition that began more than a century ago – with a requiem Eucharist ‘for the fallen’ held in this sacred space in June 1915, less than two months after the ANZACs landed at Gallipoli.
Even then, they were forging a reputation for endurance, courage, mateship and irreverent humour which has – in a way extraordinarily – left its mark on our national character to this day.
St Johns’s connection with the ANZAC spirit has only deepened since that time.
Kaye and I have not infrequently been here in this wonderful cathedral, over very many years – I think about 35 – and Kaye was once a volunteer guide.
But to my dismay, I had not appreciated, until I read Mr Scrivens’s book, the very rich acknowledgement within the Cathedral of the war efforts.
With Christ’s admonitions – blessed are the peacemakers; blessed are the meek – it can be a struggle for a Christian church, and indeed all religious communities, to make the sort of acknowledgement evident here in this Cathedral, catalogued in print so compellingly now by Denzil Scrivens in this fascinating book.
But as a school chaplain told me many years ago, we are to be meek but not weak; and outrages sometimes warrant strong responses.
In the course of this 26th Governorship, Kaye and I have been most privileged to attend, on behalf of all Queenslanders, battle commemorations at Pozières, Fromelles, Beersheba, and most recently the Armistice Centenary at Villers-Bretonneux, and then a most moving visit to Hellfire Pass on the Thailand-Burma Railway – in the presence of the ashes of the rightly venerated Weary Dunlop.
How deep is our debt to these, our forebears forgiving of their captors.
I say ‘forgiving’, because I think if you canvassed their immortal view now, their grand spirit, their surpassing generosity, would draw that forgiving response.
This wondrous cathedral houses many significant memorials to Australians, and their allies, involved in conflicts all over the world – artefacts, flags, regimental colours, plaques, and beautiful stained-glass windows.
The last known flag flown by the ANZACs at Gallipoli – by a Queenslander no less, the outstandingly heroic Captain Alexander Maxwell, is here.
There is a stained-glass window dedicated to the sometimes-overlooked service of Australian nurses in the Great War.
And the Reverend Canon David Garland, who helped develop the concept of ANZAC Day, and the moving rites with which Australians honour their war dead on that day, was a canon of this very cathedral church.
I respectfully acknowledge also the banner of the 15th and longest serving Governor of this State, Sir Leslie Wilson, himself a decorated veteran of the Great War.
And I recall my own pride, I hope forgivable, in receiving, as the 26th Governor, the colours of the 9th Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment, when they were laid up here in 2015, and then in officially unveiling the fine memorial to Canon Garland at Kangaroo Point near St Mary’s a year later.
Denzil’s book, published in the centenary year of the end of World War I, and with the assistance of the State Government’s Queensland ANZAC Centenary Grants Program, deepens the Cathedral’s connection with the ANZACs.
Denzil’s words and illustrations guide us expertly around the cathedral.
His detailed descriptions tell us the history and great significance of each of the memorials.
They speak of the devotion to duty, selfless service and often selfless sacrifice that each one represents, without ever glorifying war itself.
And so, it is now my great pleasure and honour, to launch St John’s Cathedral Brisbane and the ANZAC Legend, and commend it to the widest possible readership.