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  • Writer's pictureHopeless Hiker

The Anzac Spirit among youth today

Now, some may call me crazy, but last year I completed the World War One Challenge. The challenge is a 4 stage 100km trek across the rugged D’Aguilar Ranges in south-east Queensland over a 32 hour period. To put that into perspective it is like walking to the city from Cremorne road over ten times, non-stop for a whole weekend over some of the hardest mountain ranges and in my case also in the torrential rain. In fact, 1 in 15 people complete the trek, and four people from Mount Alvernia and three from my family have. Why anyone would sign up for this sounds crazy, I know. Well, during this trek you also carry a brick. Each brick is inscribed with the name of one of the 7000 Queenslanders who died in World War I. All of these bricks will then be built into a memorial wall to be unveiled in a park at Strathpine. My soldier's name was Benjamin Andrews Acreman, and I can safely say I will never forget that name. Private Acreman was part of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade Field Ambulance; his hometown was Windsor, Queensland, and he worked as a Sawmiller. He enlisted in the army in 1914 and sadly passed a year later due to illness at the age of 20. He faced conditions and circumstances worse than I can ever imagine. I will never know him or his family, but I did honour his sacrifice.

As you can imagine, I went through a rollercoaster of emotions before, during and after. When signing up for the event, the original motivation is the honour. I thought about my family, friends, the unknown soldier and even my uncle who is suffering from PTSD. You want to complete this event to honour those past, present and future. I started finishing sections of this event in year 10, and at the start of year 12, I was fortunate to have been chosen for the annual Canberra trip. The people, the poppies and psyche of the Anzacs solidated the idea that 2017 was the year that I was going to honour the fallen. During the event, it became less about the solider and more about a sense of completion, a goal to finish this monumental event. It was all a mental game. The first muscle to go is the brain, and as soon as it goes, it is game over. However, in the end, you reflect on the walk and why you walked in the first place. All the women and men who sadly passed for the safety of Australia then, now and in the future.

I am not here to sell this fantastic event, which it is. I am here to explain why which seems like a pretty reasonable question. This challenge commemorates the sacrifices made by soldiers from Queensland in WW1. Elite Executive Events administer the challenge for the charities Whiskeys Wish, Legacy and Soldier On, all of which support current and past Australian Defence Force members, Domestic Service members and Service Dogs that have suffered injuries or illnesses as a result of their service. The ASA All-Stars participation continues because of a belief in the cause, and for each member of the team, the challenge is not only for the WW1 soldiers from Queensland, but for all ANZAC soldiers, and their own families at home in NZ.

You might be sitting there thinking, “awesome, why are you telling us this and how does it apply to me?”. The Anzac Spirit is seen everywhere and lives amongst the youth. It lives in people showing the incentive in understanding what needs and should be done and do something about it, not taking people and everyday things like lights for granted and looking after and supporting your mates regardless of where they came from, rejoicing in the fact that they like you consider themselves Australian.

I may have been the only student to complete the whole event, but I was not the only one there. We stood together, supported one another to get through the event. Every student who is currently in Canberra is taking action. Anyone of you who talk about uniting is living the Anzac Spirit in voice. Standing amongst each other, proud to be Australian, is living the Anzac Spirit as they sacrificed so much for us to be able to do so. The Anzac Spirit is in the youth as they are one of us.

- Maddi

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