Deputy Secretary of Defense
Minister Cash, Ambassador Hockey, General Campbell, Chairman Dunford, Representative Gallego, Representative Himes, all clergy, distinguished guests and military officers, welcome.
On behalf of Secretary Mattis, thank you for being here today, as we celebrate our “first century of Mateship,” and look forward to the next 100 years, a century that we will build together.
What a fitting place for us to gather.
Construction on this beautiful cathedral began in 1907. It was halted at the outbreak of world war one. But while this structure was placed on hold, another was being raised, nearly 4,000 miles away in northern France.
Its walls were not made of stone or wood, but of flesh and blood. Its mortar was the mud of the trenches. It’s foundation: courage.
In young kids from Queens and Queensland, from Adelaide and Appalachia, we found the architects of our Australian-American relationship. And what a bond they built.
On July 4, 1918, in the crucible of combat, they began our century of Mateship. They were defiant in the face of aggression. They were innovative.
- The battle of Hamel was an early exercise in combined, joint warfare
They had swagger.
- I believe the Australian term is “larrikinism.”
They had a supreme devotion to one another. They had regard for the dignity of human life:
- General Monash had seen the slaughter of earlier battles….all to no avail
- He wanted to accomplish his mission with the least loss of life among his soldiers
The bond between Australian ‘diggers’ and American ‘dough boys’ delivered victory at the battle of Hamel in world war one. It delivered victory again in World War II. It remained unbroken in places like Korea, and Vietnam, where my own father served.
It lives on in our own time.
Sec. Mattis is fond of recalling how, when he arrived on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11, Australia was one of the first allies there.
At every challenge in this past century, we found leaders who could deal with ambiguity, uncertainty, and change.
And that’s what is required of us today. Today, we are stewards of the bond. We live in an interesting world: So much potential, so much risk…
We will always encounter challenges we cannot predict, but relationships like this one help us get through them.
Our forebears made this relationship run for 100 years, and it wasn’t always easy. But they were not thumb-suckers. They stuck together through tremendous amounts of change. They did this even when it would have been easy to get discouraged and walk away.
Their example is instructional for us as we seek to preserve and enhance the bond that was begun in 1918. Our forebears found reasons to succeed rather than reasons to fail. They set the bar high.
Our job is to raise it this next 100 years. Because today isn’t about the past. It’s about the future, which is built on relationships.
If something lasts a 100 years; you have to ask ‘why?’ It’s because people want to make it work. In some ways, it resembles a relationship between siblings. You don’t always agree, but you help each other succeed. You don’t judge one another. You overcome challenges through trust, confidence, and shared ability to work toward positive outcomes.
To say a word about our future…
Sec. Mattis released our national defense strategy earlier this year. It uses the word “allies” 124 times. As he says, “we’re not subtle.” In this military-to-military relationship, we Americans have the mentality: E pluribus unum - “out of many, one.”
We are both Pacific nations. We will uphold our shared values for a safe, secure, prosperous, and free Indo-Pacific:
- Respect for sovereignty and independence of every nation, no matter its size,
- Freedom for all nations wishing to transit international waters and airspace,
- Peaceful dispute resolution without coercion,
- Free, fair, and reciprocal trade and investment,
- And adherence to international rules and norms.
Let me close with this: In the innermost ring of the Pentagon, you will find a corridor named the ‘ANZUS Corridor.’ It tells the shared military history of Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. If you walk this corridor, you’ll see arresting images of our soldiers at war. G.I.’s and Diggers ‘battin’ the breeze’…or taking incoming fire.
Behind glass, you can see the things they carried – faded uniforms, bayonets, dulled by time. But at the end of the corridor you will find these words, borrowed from the father of the English language, William Shakespeare, from his play “Henry the Fifth.” These words capture the reality of our relationship in the last century. They also describe our future, the next 100 years of Mateship. They go like this: “for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.”
I said before that our relationship is like the one between siblings. Rarely do families get to choose their siblings. How fortunate are we that we do.
Thank you very much.
And may God bless Australia and the United States.