Australian War Memorial Director, Dr Brendan Nelson, delivered the address at the Blue Mountains Vietnam Veterans and Associated Forces Memorial Day on August 13.
Dr Nelson shared the story of ex-Katoomba High School student Bob Bowtell, who died in poisonous gas in the underground labyrinth of a Viet Cong tunnel in South Vietnam in 1966. The Corporal was on duty with the 3rd Field Troop of Royal Australian Engineers.
"After more than a half a century from the events that bring us here today it's easy to allow the past to become a distant stream; through neglectful indifference to forget Robert Bowtell and all of you that are here and those whom you represent,” said Dr Nelson.
“[But] no group of Australians has given more, nor worked harder, to shape our values and our beliefs as Australians than those who wear, and have worn, the uniforms of the Royal Australian Navy, the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force.”
Dr Nelson said Memorial Days like the annual event in Springwood have a crucial role to play.
"The paradox of this event, and days like it, is that it's not about war. It's about love and friendship - love for friends and between friends; love of family; love of our country. It's honouring men and women whose lives are devoted, not to themselves, but to us."
The Memorial Day was held in Springwood with the Memorial Day parade marching up Macquarie Road.