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Feature: A historic moment for all Australians
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13:17, February 13, 2008

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When Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was speaking in the parliament to say sorry to the stolen generation, several thousand people were gathering on the lawns in front of the Parliament House in Canberra Wednesday morning, to hear the apology with tears and cheers.

Many in the crowd had traveled across Australia to watch the historic moment on giant screens in Canberra.

"I'm proud of the new government which has the courage to correct the past mistakes and say sorry to the aboriginals. It is a histoic moment for all Australians," a middle-aged women said in the crowd.

"The government should have apologized 20 years ago to the indigenous Australians," another old man chimed in. He traveled from Melbourne the day before to celebrate the great occasion.

"We apologize for the hurt, the pain and suffering we the parliament have caused you by the laws that previous parliaments have enacted. We apologize for the indignity, the degradation and the humiliation these laws embodied. We offer this apology to the mothers, the fathers, the brothers, the sisters, the families and the communities whose lives were ripped apart by the actions of successive governments under successive parliaments," the prime minister said in the motion of apology to the nation.

Dallas Wellington came from Jerringar Aboriginal community near Jervis Bay in New South Wales to witness the apology. He believed the apology was necessary for future generations.

"Everything is connected in our culture for Aboriginal people, the acts of the Stolen Generations have affected us so much that it will also affect our younger ones, it's not just in the past, it's here with us today," he said.

The historical record showed that between 1910 and 1970, up to 50,000 of indigenous children, which accounted for 10 to 30 percent of the total junior population, were forcibly taken from their homes.

When Rudd finished his speech, the crowd outside the parliament cheered and clapped for more than a minute. Some of them have tears in their eyes.

It was "a wonderful day, a greatest moment for the history of Australia," said Caroline Michael, who waited half an hour in front of the parliament building for the apology which the government finally said to the nation.

"We should celebrate it," the young lady said loudly with pride.

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