Attending the ANZAC Day service has been a tradition for us, as it is with most Australians. This year was particularly special as my daughter Rebecca and her best friend, gave an address to the large crowd in attendance. It was the first time Primary School Captains were asked to present the address, having been the role of secondary students in previous years.
As my heart burst with pride when I heard both these 11-year-old girls speak about what ANZAC Day means for them, it occurred to me the whole ceremony was a reflection of leadership in action.
For me, the spirit of those servicemen and women who serve our country was reflected in all who organised and spoke at our local ceremony. And I condense it down to these three attributes.
The soldiers who rushed ashore at Gallipoli in 1915 were brave young men. Leaving their families behind with the knowledge they may never return again showed an enormous amount of courage.
Although it seems non-comparable, public speaking is listed as American’s number-one fear. It’s certainly reflective of Australians I speak to. The courage it took to stand in front of a crowd of hundreds and read with great poise on such an important occasion was truly inspiring. Great leaders understand the importance of the message to their audience and make it about them, not a reflection of self.
Rebecca saw this task as part of her role in her position as School Captain. She talked about what the words meant to her so that she could put feeling into her phrases. She rehearsed with us. She took on board our feedback to slow down. And she implemented it beautifully.
Comradeship in the services is not a new concept. Soldiers found themselves in a unique position, never having experienced anything like that before. They stood by each other’s sides in war. Strangers became great friends as they looked out for each other.
Our local community worked together to put on a very special ceremony Monday morning. It wasn’t the work of one alone. It wasn’t even the sole work of those who presented. It was the many who worked behind the scenes in the less obvious roles – those who put the chairs out, cooked the morning tea, organised the wreaths, the list goes. They came together to make the day memorable. Great teams are inspired by their leaders to pitch in and do what it takes to achieve the outcome.
For Rebecca and her fellow School Captain, it was working together to write the speech with their Principal. I watched as they stood side by side, and saw Jaime turn Bec’s paper for her so Bec could keep talking. I saw them whisper congratulations to each other at the end. It was mateship in action and a special moment in their lives that they will share a memory of forever.
We have heard the stories of soldiers who returned home from war to pass on messages to families from loved ones who passed away. The outpouring of emotion and support for our servicemen and women has been something this country has seen reflected over and over again.
Each of those who spoke, sung or presented on the day did so with compassion and focus. It was clear (as I assume it is everywhere) that the whole purpose and theme of the ceremony is to imagine what it felt like to experience what the diggers experienced. As Rebecca stated in her address on Monday it’s about “the mothers who sent their sons and husbands away – never to see them again”. Great leaders are able to empathise with their team, to support and guide them through the tougher times.
To hear the girls not just speak, but to actually put themselves in the shoes of others was inspiring. They acknowledged they are the first generation who have no regular contact with a person who went away to war in 1915. Yet they were able to imagine what it would be like to live during that time.
Now more than 100 years on, the ANZAC spirit lives on in our culture. It’s the inspiring people in our community, young and old, who coming together to allow this to happen. This photos – our young future leaders standing with these Senior Statesmen (President of the local RSL and CEO of our Shire Council) that highlights this the most for me.
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