Young swell our Anzac Day ranks
The decision for 17-year-old Emily Alexander to take on the role reflected a new phenomenon: that generation Y'ers are embracing Anzac Day more visibly than anyone since their grandparents.
Thousands of young and old turned out throughout the region at dawn services and at marches to mark the sacrifices made by our soldiers.
Commander Tim Watson, from the Royal Australian Navy, who addressed the thousands gathered in Lismore, observed that 'there are a lot more young people at the event this year's and in Turkey the number of young people attending the dawn service at Anzac Cove has grown dramatically during the past decade.
In 2002, 10,000 people 'mostly young backpackers' attended the dawn service in Turkey, and in 2005 the number of pilgrims making the trek reached 16,000.
These numbers are impressive when you consider only a handful attended the service each year before 1990, when the first dawn service in Turkey was televised.
At yesterday's Lismore dawn service there was an impressive number of teenagers in hoodies among the sea of veterans wearing crisp blazers.
Ten-year-old Lismore resident Maddeline Hannigan didn't mind waking up early to attend the service, in fact, she woke the rest of her family.
"It's important to remember what the soldiers did for us," she said. "It would have been very scary."
So why are all these young people so keen to make something of Anzac Day? 20 years ago Anzac Day was described 'as lifeless as Good Friday' by authors McKernan and Stanley in their book Anzac Day: Seventy Years On.
The book suggested the reason for this shift was: "Traditionalists living in the 1950s were tired of the memory of war' having experienced two world wars and the Great Depression' and that Baby Boomers living in the 60s were busy building families and strongly disagreed with the notion of war."
On the contrary, generation Y'ers are not war weary, having grown up watching movies like Peter Weir's Gallipoli on wet days at school and associate the Anzac spirit with our sense of national identity, mateship and bravery.
That culmination of factors could help explain why four teenage boys drove down to watch the Anzac Day march yesterday.
The four mates from Lismore didn't have any family members marching; they simply decided to spend their public holiday watching the march to pay their respect to the diggers.