I attended two different Anzac day services: a dawn service at Mooloolaba Beach and a day service in Nambour. While waking up at 4am wasn't necessarily my ideal way to start the day, it was completely worth it. A few thousand people gathered on the beach under a moonlit sky. We heard veterans give speeches, watched a traditional Maori haka, observed the laying of wreaths, and remembered the brave men and women who gave up their lives in service. The sun rose as the wreath-laying boats landed on the beach, just like at Gallipoli over a hundred years ago.
The day service at Nambour was different. Rather than being a solemn remembrance, it instead focused on honoring and glorifying past and present service members. After a parade through the streets and assembling at Quota Park, local guest speakers shared what Anzac Day meant to them before concluding with the Australian and New Zealand national anthems being sung by my fellow choir members and I. However, one speech in particular stuck with me. It focused on the Anzac spirit.
What is that, you ask? The Anzac spirit encompasses the qualities of a quintessential Australian: endurance, mateship, courage, good humor, and ingenuity. Even after a loss at Gallipoli, their values were not shaken. If anything, they were cemented deeper than ever before. I see each of these traits shining in the people I have met here. Good humor in my host dad, mateship in a friend who has stood by me from the first day of school, courage in my fellow exchange students.
I am not Australian. Yet, if I have even an ounce of the Anzac Spirit in me, I know I can look forward to a life well-lived.
Lest we forget.