The 75th ANZAC Day Dawn Service at the Bomana War Cemetery began at 5am today, with guests arriving as early as 4am.
The gathering of about 500 people included the Heads of State of Australia and PNG, Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, Leader of the Australian Opposition, Bill Shorten, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Australian High Commissioner to PNG, Bruce Davis, Veterans and service men and women, and residents of Port Moresby.
Australia’s Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, said this year marked the 75th anniversary of the battle to protect Port Moresby.
The hostile nature of PNG’s terrains contributed a large part to the terrible infantry casualties.
“We may only visit this place once a year, once a week or perhaps once in a lifetime. For those who gave their lives, are part of our hearts forever. They are part of our history,” Sir Peter Cosgrove.
PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, said all nations must learn from the lessons of war. He said the horror of conflict in the Second World War also laid the foundations for the building of relations between our people, and the people of the countries we partner today.
“Today, the countries of people who fought and died in the Second World War are friends. We work together to build a more harmonious world. With the uncertainty and prospect of war that confronts the world today. We must be resolute in our commitment to protect our peoples to find peace,” O’Niell said.
As the Sun rose higher, distinguished guests were invited to lay wreaths for the fallen.
Japan, Britain, America, Korea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and ex-servicemen & ex-service women all paid their respects. This was followed by the Ode, the Last Post, 2 minutes of silence, and the National Anthems of PNG, Australia and New Zealand.
Papua New Guinea has three great war cemeteries, in Lae, Rabaul and here in Port Moresby, the Bomana War Cemetery.
Beneath these beautiful grounds, lie over 8,000 fallen Australians, many of them died during the battles fought between January of 1942 and August of 1945, to evict the Japanese from Papua and New Guinea.
Kokoda was one of the most defining battles in PNG during WWII.
PM O’Neill encouraged more people to walk the Kokoda Track, and to visit sites of commemoration around the country and to learn the history of what happened 75 years ago.
He said the PNG Government will continue to work with partners to make it possible for more people to visit these sites. At the same time it will increase measures to sustainably manage these important and sacred places.