News Release

A Day of Respect and Gratitude for Those Who Served


An ANZAC commemorative ceremony to recognize the sacrifice and service of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who have served in the Australian Defence Force was held at 6:30 am on 25th April 2018 in Canberra, ACT.

Participants climbed Mt Ainslie near the Australian War Memorial and arrived at the sacred site to the sound of the didgeridoo played by Wing Commander Jonathan Willey of the Worimi people, with the fragrant aroma of gum tree branches burning in a small campfire wafting through the air.

Michael Bell of Ngunnawal Nation welcomed to country, and Wing Commander Cheryl Neal gave the commemorative address focusing her remarks on the contributions of Aboriginal women to Australia’s defence efforts. Wing Commander Neal is a descendent of the Darug and Yuin people.

Michele Abel from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints commented, “As a family we have attended ANZAC Day dawn services for more than 30 years.”

She continued, “The most moving experiences have been the services held here in Canberra recognising the contributions of my indigenous ancestors - the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia and Maori of New Zealand.”

“Standing in the bush land, side by side with my people,” added Michele, “I feel connected to the lands that my ancestors fought to preserve for us, their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.”

Michele's husband President Anthony Abel, a counselor in the Canberra Stake (diocese) presidency of the LDS Church remarked, “The early morning ceremony is a special day of remembrance for me, a time to remember my ancestors that served in past wars and who serve today.”

He reflected, “Some of my ancestors laid down their lives for my freedom and prosperity, and some returned. On ANZAC day I remember them all with gratitude and reverence in my heart. Coming together for the dawn service is a wonderful way to pay my respects.”

After a prayer given by Lieutenant Colonel Chaplain Ivan Grant, a Wiradjuri man from Griffith NSW, tribute wreaths were laid in front of the commemorative stone monument and plaque. The words inscribed, “Remembering the Aboriginal People Who Served in the Australian Forces,” help us to reflect on their sacrifices.

“We will remember them,” responded those who attended this ANZAC day ceremony. We can remember them by living lives of respectful decency and civility for all.

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