‘For real heroism without excitement and glory give me a Gallipoli hero,’ said Vera Deakin a daughter of the Australian Prime Minister and Red Cross worker in a letter sent back to her parents from Cairo on 1916. The ANZAC Spirit has given Australia and New Zealand a great identity, which has impressed both allies and enemies alike. It was forged during a time when mateship, togetherness and bravery were shown frequently on the Gallipoli Peninsula called Ariburnu, now known as ANZAC Cove. Since then, the ANZAC spirit has been embodied in the armed forces as well as those in other fields and is still evident today. The ANZAC spirit is an enduring legacy that many Australians and New Zealanders exhibit in a wide variety of situations.
The ANZAC spirit is the amazing fighting spirit known in every Australian. It is the ability to fight against the odds and to venture into the unknown to perform acts of great courage, kindness and sacrifice. The spirit was born during a time when comradeship, mateship and bravery were demonstrated frequently by common soldiers fighting for their country and allies. The spirit is not only the daring acts of courage shown by the ANZAC soldiers, but the laughter, pride and the love of their country which is embodied in every Australian today. The legend of the ANZAC spirit was born on the 25th April in 1915, as soon as they took those first few steps onto Turkish soil. With snipers firing all around them as they made that dreaded climb up the steep cliffs on the Gallipoli Peninsula we saw the start of a New World. The spirit was continually shown in the trenches and on the battlefields at Gallipoli when soldiers had to struggle in treacherous conditions, day and night. This spirit is what kept the ANZAC soldiers going. John Simpson Kilpatrick, better known as Simpson and His Donkey continually showed this spirit. Simpson was a stretcher-bearer in Gallipoli in 1915. He later acquired a Donkey to help him transport the wounded soldiers from the battlefield to safety. Simpson put his own life at risk for the health and safety of his comrades. Simpson continued his great deeds until one month later when he was shot dead. Simpson disregarded his own safety for the lives of others and this was in the true ANZAC spirit.
In a small nation, what we Australians are recognised for, is our togetherness and fighting spirit. Opponents on and off the sporting arena dread this spirit which is continually shown. On many occasions we have seen the ANZAC spirit being demonstrated.
One only has to look at the feats of the Australian Equestrian Team to see the spirit of the ANZAC in action. In 1960 Bill Roycroft put the pain of a broken collar bone to the back of his mind, discharged himself from hospital and rode in the final day of the 3 day event, enabling his team to win gold. Gillian Robston in 1996 in Atlanta followed this great act of ANZAC spirit. After breaking bones because of falling off her horse in the cross-country event, Gillian completed the event enabling her team to win a gold medal. On many sporting arenas over the years, Australians have put the team before the individual to achieve the best result possible.
Vivian Bullwinkle was on a ship that was attacked by the Japanese in WWII. Vivian doggie paddled to the shore. The Japanese invaded her and many of the other nurse that had fled the ship on the shore. She and the other nurses were made to walk knee deep into the water where they were fired upon from behind. She pretended to be dead. Vivian sat up cautiously and proceeded to hide in the bush. After two weeks in the bush she surrendered to the Japanese soldiers. They placed her in a prison camp for three years until Australian soldiers finally found her. After much courage and bravery I think that Vivian Bullwinkle portrays what we know as the ANZAC spirit.
There are many normal, everyday people performing great acts of the ANZAC spirit. Aaron John Ledden is one of these people. He is the youngest recipient of the Stanhope Gold in Australia. Aaron was just 15 years old when he performed one of our nations greatest acts of courage, risking his own life to save the life of another. On the 2nd of July in 1993 Aaron was surfing and nearby a wave capsized a little dinghy. A man was trapped under the boat so Aaron went to rescue him. After being caught in rope and debris, Aaron cheated death to rescue the young man trapped. Aaron performed the ANZAC spirit by helping out a mate no matter what the consequences may be.
Many other Australians have performed great acts in the spirit of the ANZAC. Brendon Noel Park showed this spirit when he pushed his sister out of the way of an oncoming car when he was only seven, putting his own life at risk to save another.
One can also look no further than Quentin Kenihan when looking for evidence of the ANZAC spirit being alive and well in Australia. Quentin is a 26-year-old man who has broken over 60 bones in his body due to a condition called Severe Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Quentin has lived with his own pain but still finds the time to cheer up other ill and dying children. Quentin has always put others before himself and this is what typifies this spirit.
The Australian athletics team attempted to adopt The Diggers, the nickname for the Australian and New Zealand soldiers from WWI as they were always digging trenches for themselves. The athletics team felt that they could assimilate the mateship, courage and leadership of the ANZAC soldiers by competing to their maximum ability and never giving up for athletic glory for Australia. It is a true reflection of the high esteem that the nation holds for their Diggers that the public outcry resulted in the name being dropped.
The ANZAC spirit is the spirit which describes all Australians, and it is a spirit which we are proud to embody into later generations. It is putting the group before the individual, the welfare of many before their own welfare and the idea of never giving up in the face of adversity. The ANZAC spirit is not something we can see but it is a spirit each and every Australian can feel inside of them. The willingness and determination to succeed under all circumstances is something which is admired by many. In the poem Fallen Comrades, Signaller Tom Skeyhill puts on paper some of the thoughts that come to mind when we think of the ANZAC soldiers.
"Sleep on! Dear fallen comrades!
You’ll ne’er be forgotten by
The boys who fought beside you
And the ones who saw you die.
Your graves may be neglected,
But fond mem’ry will remain;
The story of how you fought and died
Will ease the grief and pain
That we know your kin are feeling
Over there across the foam,
And we’ll tell the story of your deeds
Should we e’er reach Home, Sweet Home"
As promised by Signaller Tom Skeyhill in 1915 from the front, the spirit of the ANZAC is a flame which can never be blown out, and it is a flame which will burn in our hearts forever. Even though our ANZAC soldiers may be gone, the spirit of the ANZAC still lives on in the deeds of the many ordinary and extraordinary Australians that this country is blessed with.
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