The honorable PJ Keating, MP, Prime Minister
Speech Maker Don Watson
11th of November, 1993
Context for Speech
• Keating two years into PM role • Held on 11th November, the day Australian’s celebrate
Armistice Day and the end of WWI/Remembrance Day • May b1993- Republic Advisory
Committee set up- created by the Keating Labor government, the Committee laid the
foundations for proposed Constitutional change • Mabo- 1992/ Native title- 1993- Both
movements involving Aboriginal identity and their struggle towards national reconciliation, this
factor led Keating to word his speech in a way that was still emotionally impacting, yet respectful
of the Aboriginal community. • Speech was delivered in the middle of the Reconciliation
debate- concerns about Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal identity. Keating had to be careful with
wording as to not offend any particular party. • Worked with speech writer Don Watson who
believed that once a speech is delivered, it is the property of the speechmaker, as it gives their
views, attitudes, preferred language and intonation.
Central Idea/argument
Democracy, nationalism and unity of spirit
Mateship, courage, duty and loyalty
Non-glorification of war
The paradox of one representing many
War is meaningless, but a soldiers life is meaningful
The recognition of the sacrifice of one, symbolises the sacrifices of all soldiers
We should acknowledge and be grateful of their sacrifices
Unknown soldier encapsulated as ‘the true heart of the nation’
Generate pride
Promotes Australian values
Calls all Australians to celebrate the work of soldiers
Values Explored
Non-glorification of war
• “because the Great war was mad, brutal, awful, awful struggle, distinguished more
often then
not by military and political incompetence…victory was scarcely discernible from
Keating sums up this war as ‘inexcusable folly”
• The war is portrayed as a tragedy, where victory was also defeat
• They are not glorifying war, but honoring the sacrificed lives of all the soldiers,
from all
countries and sides of war
• “for out of the war came a lesson which transcended the horror and tragedy and
inexcusable folly it was a lesson to ordinary people….that they were not ordinary”
• The war allowed for the ordinary people of society to achieve the extraordinary.
The hero’s,
Soldiers, sailors, nurses all taught a nation to endure hardship, to show courage, to be
bold and
resilient, believe in themselves and to unite the nation as a group
Values Explored
One representing many
• “he is all of them, and one of us”
• “it was a lesson about ordinary people – and the lesson was they were not
• The unknown soldier honours the memory of all the men and women who laid
down their lives for Australia
• By honouring the memory of the many through just one person, it is a reminder
of the loss caused by war and the lessons people and war which was gained
(honouring and remembering the dead and their sacrifices, hardships and
impact on the nation)
• One gain is a legend of bravery and sacrifice, a deeper faith in the nation and a
‘deeper understanding of what it means to be Australian’
• However, the unknown soldier not only honours the past, but also ‘enshrines a
nations love of peace’
Values Explored
Democracy, nationalism, unity
• His family is lost to us as he was lost to them”
• Democracy (majority decision making, by the people for the people)
• Makes reference to the ANZAC story  Australian legend of bravery, sacrifice
lead to a deeper faith in the nation as a whole and its democracy as well as a deeper
understanding of what it means to be Australian
• “ a legend of free and independent whose disciplines derived less from military
formalities and customs than from the bonds of mateship and demands of necessity”
• The story of the unknown soldier is the heart of the ANZAC legend, which leads
to a deeper of what it means to be Australian, the values of unity and
nationalism, which are a tradition which Australians “have gone to war with ever
Values Explored
Mateship, courage, duty, loyalty
• Soldiers sacrifice for their nation, as well as for each other
• Links to the ANZAC story, the sacrifices soldiers make for each other, as well
as all of us
• “on all sides they were the heroes of that war…the soldiers, sailors and nurses,
those who taught us to endure hardship, to show courage, to be bold as well
as resilient, to believe in ourselves, to stick together”
• “He went for no other reason than that he believed it was the duty he owed
his country and his king”
• By honouring the unknown soldier, the nation is also honouring their values
on the treatment of others, each other and their reason to fight
• Honouring mateship which entails unity as a nation in the battlefield,
courage to accept their duty to their nation, to defend it, loyalty for Australia
and their ‘mates’
Structure of Speech
• Begins with a short and abrupt statement which sets the tone for the speech,
and establishes the persona of the unknown soldier, and how he represents all
those fighting for their country
 "We do not know this Australians name and we never will"
• Introduces recurring use of inclusive language to follow opening sentence
• This paragraph leads into details on the characteristics of different soldiers
and the sacrifices they make to serve their country
Structure of Speech
introduces statistics into the fatalities and number of people who represent their
country and outlines the history of Australia's spirit, referenced with the mention of the
ANZAC soldiers
We know that he was one of the 45,000 Australians who died on the western front.
One of the 416000 Australian's who volunteered for service in the first World War..."
• Use of truncated sentences and rhetorical questions break up points and coalesce two
points together to keep the flow of the speech going
E.g. "He is one of them. And he is one of us."
• Communicates the main purpose of the speech, that is, highlighting the courage and
bravery of the Australian soldiers, both fallen and those still defending their country,
and reiterates the values they live by in the ANZAC spirit
"On all sides they were the heroes of that war; not the generals and the politicians
but the soldiers and sailors and nurses- those who taught us to endure the hardship,
to show courage, to be bold as well as resilient, to believe in ourselves and stick
• Goes into details into specific scenarios soldiers found themselves in and this
contributed to the challenges they faced to fight for their country
"We do not know his age or his circumstances- whether he was from the city or
from the bush; what occupation he left to become a soldier; what religion; if he had a
religion; is he was married or single."
Structure of Speech
• Concludes to never forget the soldiers they are gathered to remember, and to
promote a sense of hope that lives in all those present as long Australian
soldiers continue to serve
• Begins to wrap up the speech with "We have lost more than 100,000 lives, and
with them all their love of this country... We have gained a legend: a story of
bravery" showing a paradox between the mourning of the fallen soldiers
paralleled with the legend they leave behind and the hope it promotes
• Concludes with extensive use of inclusive language, that "there is faith enough
for all of us" reiterating that the audience is also linked to the unknown soldier
being discussed throughout the entirety of the speech, and the extent that the
consequences have on those who remain behind
Rhetorical devices and examples
• Truncated sentences “He is all of them. And one of us” Emphasises the
way that the fallen soldiers as one of us, and their sacrifice was for us
• Inclusive language “His family is lost to us and he was lost to them”
Used to create a sense of unity within the audience and see the loss of a
soldier as one similar to the loss of a family member
• Asyndeton “ The tide of events since he died has been so dramatic, so vast
and all consuming”  Creates a direct dramatic effect, also acts as almost an
after thought of Keating
• Anaphora “We do not know his rank or his battalion. We do not..”
Emphasises the fact that we do not know anything about this soldier, it also
creates a dramatic effect as Keating’s tone would have most likely changed
throughout successive phrases
Links to other speeches
Faith Bandler – Faith, Hope and Reconciliation – 1999
This links to the speech due to its exploration, and purpose, of unity within community .
This speech also links to Bandler’s speech as it makes an attempt at not
offending/antagonising the audience’s views on the war, especially when Keating is
commenting on the war being a horrendous. The world ‘Gallipoli’ has not appeared within
the speech, which is odd considering the subject of the speech relates to war. This has most
likely been done by Keating in order to portray his opinion that that war was a catastrophe.
However, the purpose of the speech is to honour the sacrifices of the dead for their nation,
not the glorification of war.
This is similar to how Bandler relies on personal experiences and stories of injustice to
achieve social justice by listening, rather than antagonising and offending the audience.
She may challenge their views, however portrays her own views to overcome cultural
Critical Commentary
• When the speech was first presented to an audience, off the back of the war tragedy, it
had a massive impact, it addressed many very sensitive issues and had high levels of
emotive language which contributed to its impact
• The values addressed in this speech will transcend time, although the emotion behind
the unknown soldier has faded over time, the values of mateship, courage, duty, loyalty
etc. will remain relevant to the lives of all Australians
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