PRESIDENT Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has commended all Fijians for their big hearts, generous spirits and their capacity to forgive.
In his Fiji Day address to the nation last night, Ratu Epeli said the spirit of being Fijian was thinking more about things that bind the nation together.
"As we all know, we have had our challenges in the past. But I believe that whatever differences have existed have been contrived rather than being innate," Ratu Epeli said.
"Some people have tried to exploit our ethnic, religious and political diversity for their own purposes, to create suspicion and fear.
"But that division has been rejected by the overwhelming majority of Fijians."
He said every Fijian working together as one nation held the promise of a brighter future and prosperity. This, he said, was evident during Cyclone Evan last year.
"One to one, Fijians have invariably got along very well together because we all share some basic values. We have big hearts, generous spirits and a capacity to forgive.
"What we do best in Fiji, especially in times of trouble, is to care for each other.
"We can only ever be worthy of our promise as a nation if we do care, if we take everyone forward with us and leave no one behind."
He remembered Fijians serving overseas in peacekeeping duties, volunteers in Pacific Island countries and the rest of the world and their families.
Ratu Epeli paid tribute to their sacrifice and commitment to their service to Fiji and the world.
"More than ever tonight we think of their sacrifice and commitment and pay tribute to their services to Fiji and the world.
"They may be far across the seas, but in our hearts, they are close to home and we pray for them and their safe return.
"We also think of their families that are sharing that sacrifice - wives without husbands, husbands without wives, children without a parent, families separated for long periods.
"However hard that separation must be, on this of all days, you can be proud that your loved one is putting service to others first. Putting Fiji first.
"Because that is the essence of Fiji Day - a time to put aside our individual concerns and think about our nation and what it means to us all."