Opunake Coastal News Column - Remembering and honouring the sacrifices of our veterans
‘At every cost,’ they said, ‘it must be done.’ They told us in the early afternoon. We sit and wait the coming of the sun’ ‘The Attack at Dawn’ by Leon Gellert.
It is hard for those of us who have never borne witness to war to understand the depth of emotion and courage our soldiers endured. But if there is one thing we can do, it is to take the time to honour all that they gave and to ensure we take the teachings that history gives us.
This Anzac Day is a chance for us to reflect on the effects of a war which touched the lives of every New Zealand family, and honour our veterans’ contribution to the peace, freedom, and security our country enjoys today.
A century ago this month the Government of the day announced a half-day holiday, to be known as Anzac Day, would be established on the 25th of April. As it is today, this was a way for our communities to come together and remember those who lost their lives and the scale of the impact war had on our population of just over one million.
As time has passed, Anzac Day has come to symbolise not only a recognition of those who lost their lives at Gallipoli but of all our servicemen and women who have served in various conflicts and peacekeeping efforts over the years.
This is the second of four years of commemorations marking the Great War. In September we will turn our attention to marking the centenary of the horrific Battle of the Somme, where 6000 of our soldiers were wounded and 2000 were killed. The contribution that New Zealand made in France during the First World War in 1916 will be commemorated overseas across three services.
Remembrance services will once again be held across the country, with the national service being held at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington. I encourage you all to attend a service or take some time during this day to reflect and thank those who went before us to provide the freedom we enjoy. What is so encouraging is seeing the many young people and children that are attending these services. To learn about this history, and give the time to respect and honour is a great attribute they will carry with them into adulthood.
As we reflect on our country’s experience of war and military conflict we honour the more than 18,000 New Zealanders who died, and the more than 100,000 who served their country during the Great War. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have served our country to protect the ideals we hold dear. Lest we forget.