Anzac Day started early in Airlie Beach, like elsewhere in Australia, marked by a dignity and respect that has grown in the last ten years.
The service we attended was in a community park beside the Cannonvale State School, where the cenotaph lies at the foot or a circular raked hill allowing everyone of the near 2000 people present a clear view. It was a moving ceremony, the NZ anthem sung by a Maori lady with a strong voice being a big highlight. Applause erupted at the singing of the national anthems. It was one of the best dawn services we have attended.
We spent the day watching ABC television and the various services from Turkey and France. John Key, the NZ Prime Minister, impressed us greatly with his message of compassion, inclusiveness and forgiveness spoken at the Gallipoli dawn service. I'm now fan of our PM but I give him credit for his speech later in the day at Lone Pine. I also greatly admired the speech of the French Minister of Women's Affairs at Villers Bretonneux.
My great Uncle Albert Langston died at Lone Pine. My great uncle Jim Smith was wounded at Gallipoli. My grandfather was seriously wounded and should have died in the first and often forgotten battle of Villers Brettoneux. I have stood in the place where he was seriously wounded.
It's a day where we all must seek to understand what it is that shapes us individually and as a nation. It's a day when supposedly old fashioned values like service and sacrifice and selflessness are highlighted ... but why do we leave it for one day a year. Are these such dated ideals that they no longer apply or do they bear reconsideration. Could we be worse of if we each applied them with the same zeal on all of the other days of the year.
A question asked in a keynote address in Brisbane bears repeating. Are we worthy of the opportunity that the sacrifice of strangers have bought us?
Of much less significance, we relaxed in the pool during the late afternoon and tested our new waterproof camera in preparation for our day on the outer Great Barrier Reef tomorrow.