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Designed by Ivor Evans, I was
chosen over & above some 32,000 contenders.
Although I was never an orphan, I was adopted on that sparkling Spring
day, the 3rd September, 1901, when I flew above the Exhibition Building
in Melbourne. I was hailed & celebrated by people standing on the
threshold of nationhood. They took me to their hearts.
In that official ceremony, in the presence of our first Prime Minister,
I became the chief symbol of a new nation, embracing the ideals of
self-determination, national sovereignty & personal freedom under
I have been hoisted aloft over many buildings, from humble homes to the
Houses of Parliament. I have listened to every Prime Minister declare
his allegiance to me, to our Monarch, & to our Constitution. I have
witnessed the pledge of each one to protect & defend those freedoms
we all cherish, even above life itself.
I am carried with pride in ceremonies & processions. I have draped
the caskets of your national heroes carried to their last resting
place. The caskets of Kings & Queens, eminent Statesmen, Generals,
Admirals, humble Privates & the Unknown Soldier.
Wherever free men gather, wherever there is justice, faith, hope,
charity & truth; there too, am I.
At the tender age of 14 years, I received my baptism of fire in World
War I. I flew proudly in those early days as we heard the call to do
battle alongside those of our own kin. I was carried up the steep hills
of Gallipoli & I was there with the men in the trenches. I watched
Simpson bring out the wounded on his doughy little donkey. I breathed
the dust of the deserts & rode in glory with the Light Horse
Brigade. I saw our finest sons fall & lie still. They had given
their last full measure of devotion. The war was over for them forever,
but I kept my lonely vigil over their graves & stayed to watch the
flowers grow amid the crosses, row upon row, in Flanders Fields. Oh,
young Australia, I was there with your fathers whom I longed to
comfort. Look at me again.
You know me by my distinctive emblems.
Jack is the tie that binds us to your ancestors & rich
heritage down through the centuries.
The upright red cross on a white field is
the Cross of St George, Patron Saint of England. This Cross was there
when King John set his royal seal on Magna Carta in 1215 & it was
there when Simon de Montfort brought together the very first Parliament
in 1265, making England truly the Mother of Parliaments.
I proudly wear two other crosses. The
white diagonal cross on a blue field is the Cross of St Andrew, Patron
Saint of Scotland. The red diagonal cross on a white field is the Cross
of St Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland. These three crosses which
perhaps you scarcely understand, unite our heritage in this wonderful
land & forge our future in an inseparable bond. The blazing
Southern Cross marks our way ahead while the seven-pointed Federation
Star joins our states & territories in a single, yet united,
commonwealth. All this set in a field of blue - the blue of our
southern skies & of the endless ocean washing our golden, sandy
beaches & coral shores. We are the heirs to a culture, rich &
diverse. We are the offspring child of a great empire. We have a
glorious tomorrow. We are one.
I have been to many places. I have seen
With our explorers, I’ve crossed the icy
wastes of Antarctica & climbed the heights of Mt Everest. I look
down with pride on our mighty sportsmen & women as they win honours
for their country all over the world. At every official or memorable
event in this land, I hold the position of honour.
Following World War I, we frolicked in our
newfound liberty, growth, prosperity, increase & our common wealth.
But far to the north, in Russia, a new tyranny spewed forth,
slaughtering the rich & regal, the lowly & humble, usurping the
sovereignty of nations not of its own. We watched from afar, protected
by the border of oceans. Then came 1939 & once again, we heard the
beat of the warmonger’s drums. Again, my heart went out to our brave
soldiers, sailors & airmen. I was there with them. In the Middle
East, in New Guinea, Borneo & many other places. I was trodden in
the mud red with the blood of those brave young Australians so
ruthlessly murdered in prison of war camps.
Finally, in ’45, peace at last. So we
thought. With just a few short years rest, I was again carried into
battle, caught up in further hostilities by those promoting war. I
watched & praised the endurance & spirit of our volunteers in
Korea. I, too, felt the sufferings of our brave sons & daughters in
the forces in Vietnam.
I am well-known & remembered in many
places. I am flown every day in the school at Villers-Bretonneux, in
France, where grateful children & teachers do not forget their debt
to Australian soldiers. I am many things to many people. To some, I am
yesterday, today & tomorrow, an inseparable link in the chain that
binds men to God & country. And because I am on the side of God
through our great heritage, there are the God-less who seek to destroy
me & replace those three Christian crosses with plants or animals,
but they dare not. Why? Because today, I am everywhere. In the homes of
the humble & the mansions of millionaires. I am in the cities, the
suburbs & in country towns. From coast to coast, right across this
great nation, I am raised with pride & dignity. Oh, my people, you
have given so much to be Australian & I am proud that we are one.
Bonded through trial & triumph. Look at me & remember our
heritage & realise our great future. Together, we will grow, &
all the world will know.
You must never allow those who seek to
reduce diversity into dust, to grind our treasures into a melting pot.
And as you consider the future of your own true identity, remember, I
was there in your every hour of loss, your every moment of glory. So
too, I will be there in all your tomorrows, though proud, loyal &
glorious through all my short history, there is one thing for which I
need you most of all. I cannot fasten myself to the flagstaff.
The above verse is from the song "The Voice of the
Australian Flag", performed by Larry Hannigan.
Jack' was officially acknowledged as an alternative name for
the Union Flag by the Admiralty and Parliament in the early 20th
century. The term 'jack' refers to the flag that is flown from the
bowsprit of of a ship, often denoting nationality. The Union Flag is
commonly known as the Union Jack, although the exact origin of the name
is unclear. One explanation is that it gets its name from the 'jack
staff' of naval vessels from which the original Union Flag was flown.