Letters to the Editor

July 4th marks a century of U.S. and Aussie “Mateship”

This year marks a century of “Mateship” between Australia and the U.S. — a special relationship that was first forged in the trenches of World War I. Mateship is an Australian term that embodies friendship, equality and solidarity.

In 1918, a contingent of U.S. soldiers were placed under the command of Australian Gen. Sir John Monash. He was directed to launch an offensive against enemy positions in the town of Le Hamel. To honor the participating U.S. troops, Gen. Monash chose July 4 as the date for the attack. The successful offensive routed the Germans, a victory that contributed to the goal of winning the war in France. Subsequently, the British government decorated 14 Americans for their bravery — including Cpl. Thomas Pope, who also was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Since that fateful Independence Day, the two nations have fought side-by-side in every major conflict in which the U.S. has committed combat troops — including Vietnam, where Delta Company, 6th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, was awarded the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation for “extraordinary heroism” during the Battle of Long Tan.

That military alliance endures today as soldiers of both countries work together in Iraq and Syria to combat the threat of terrorist organizations.

Recently, a commemorative service held at the Washington National Cathedral captured the spirit of mateship:

“A partnership of shared values, one of respect, creativity and bravery in the face of adversity… forged in some of humanity’s darkest moments, yet one that reflects our common vision of a bright future…Together, Australia and the United States continue to strive to make the world a better, safer place for generations to come.”

Don Slesnick,

Australia’s honorary consul for Florida,

Coral Gables