Bill's Speeches

VICTORIA CROSS CEREMONY

TUESDAY, 18 FEBRUARY 2014


CANBERRA


 


 


 

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Your Excellency, the Prime Minister, the Baird family and other distinguished guests here today.

 

Cameron Baird’s mates described him as an ‘iconic figure’ in their regiment.

 

High praise from members of an elite unit recognised the world-over for its professionalism, courage and skill.

 

Even in that esteemed company – Corporal Baird’s record stands out.

 

In 2008, Corporal Baird received the Medal for Gallantry.

 

A decoration that recognised his courage under fire and willingness to risk his own life to save his comrades.

 

Now, with the awarding of the Victoria Cross, he attains a place of the highest honour in Australian – and Commonwealth – Military History.

 

The Victoria Cross is our highest military honour.

 

The Victoria Cross is unique in our military establishment, all ranks of the Australian defence force are required to salute a Victoria Cross recipient.

 

It has been described as

 

‘the most democratic, and at the same time the most exclusive of all orders of chivalry’.

 

Proof that:

 

‘there is only one standard, the human standard of valour and deadly peril’.

 

The Victoria Cross speaks to the way we see ourselves as nation.

 

The Victoria Cross speaks to our best qualities, the way we would like to see ourselves – through the eyes of heroes.

 

Above all the Victoria Cross is part of our proud military tradition, a tradition that reveres the courage to sacrifice one’s safety for one’s friends.

I did not have the privilege of knowing Corporal Baird, but I suspect he was a modest man.

 

I am sure that today he would want us to acknowledge his many comrades who may not have received the same level of recognition.

Including the 40 Australians who have died in the mountains and green valleys of Afghanistan.

 

And the hundreds more who have been wounded – or come home bearing psychological scars.

Corporal Baird – and all his fellow soldiers are heroes.

 

But there is no doubt that Corporal Baird was the sort of man that every soldier would aspire to be.

To his father Doug, his mother Kaye, his brother Brendan and his nephews Riley and Max, we offer our deep and heartfelt condolences.

 

Our nation owes Cameron Baird, and his family, a debt that we can never repay.

 

Rest assured the award of this Victoria Cross places your son, your brother, your uncle, and yet again the 2Commando Regiment in Australian military history forever.

 

ENDS

 

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