As a nation we like to think of ourselves as lucky, blessed. We like to think we are fortunate and brave.
But this year we have struggled. It feels like at every turn we have been kicked in the guts. And many of us are bruised, hollow, haunted.
Just in the last month a simple Monday morning changed violently, rapidly into 17 hours that changed our nation. Then just days later the deaths of eight children in Cairns, stabbed, allegedly by the mother of seven of them left us weeping.
Yesterday we watched silently as teams of volunteers removed the floral tribute in Martin Place, and as we saw these images we did not feel sadness anymore, but hope and pride in the unity of our nation.
When the victims of the tragedy were broadcast on our screens we gazed at the faces of three small children from Perth – Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin and a small part of our bravery fell away.
It’s been the year where we anxiously watched the search for two small boys on two opposite sides of the country.
And even back in January 52 homes lost and the life of a 62-year old man when bushfires razed the Perth Hills.
And yet there has been a shining light in each and every single one of these times our nation was wounded.
A band of unknown Australians always there, always helping – the brave men and women of our emergency services. Beside every one of the families. Holding each and every one of the victims.
Pulling the hostages from the Sydney siege to safety. Searching desperately for a lost two-year old boy in Perth. Sifting through the wreckage of MH17 an Australian presence on the other side of the world.
Standing near. Standing tall. Strong and reliable. These are the men and women of our emergency services, of our police, our paramedics, our firies, our volunteers, our SES, our surf rescue.
And we want to say thank you.