They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.At the going down of the sun and in the morning,We will remember them.
As another ANZAC day approaches, the people of Australia and New Zealand unite in honouring their war dead. As a kiwi, I have always felt great pride in the spirit of New Zealand’s fallen soldiers. Those men who risked their lives for our country. For our freedoms, something that so many take for granted today.
As I child I always listened intently, read intensely and watched appreciatively all the information that was given to me by my teachers, the newspapers and television specials about ANZAC day. But I fear many people don’t appreciate the significance of the day anymore. So many people just seem to think of it as another public holiday. Busy making plans to have a drink up on the night before; planning a day trip somewhere else. But it should be so much more than that.
Tomorrow morning I will mark ANZAC day for the fourth time in Korea and the third time at the War Memorial in Seoul, at a Dawn service here in the place where New Zealand soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice, a place in which they lost their lives for a people today whose everyday population can barely locate us on a world map.
However, we often forget that ANZAC day is a day that all New Zealanders, irrespective of their ethnic background have a responsibility in which to honour all those who fought to preserve New Zealand for you and me, and for generations to come. Their sacrifice enabled others to build a country in which my family was able to immigrate to, to create a country that for better or worse has always tried to do the right thing by her people. Including her immigrant people.
I don’t want to say too much as I feel that the sacredness of ANZAC day need not be defiled by politics and questions over contributions and so forth. But there is one thing I want everyone to remember.
In World War One NZ contributed over 100,000 troops to the war effort. Per capita our tiny little country sent the most troops of any nation to the great war. Nearly 10% of our entire population of the time. In World War Two we sent over 120,000 troops. We sent troops to every major conflict of the 20th century in which our allies were involved. New Zealand soldiers died at Vietnam and Korea. We also have recently lost men in Afghanistan.
But never have we attacked, invaded, or had to defend our own shores from a foreign enemy. Our men and women fought wars that other people orchestrated. Our soldiers sacrifice may have been to protect their homeland, but they fought for the people of the world. And that to me is the most beautiful sacrifice and contribution that all New Zealanders should be proud of.
On ANZAC day we should all stand tall and proud in honouring the people who honoured our nation. For their contribution, was our nation’s greatest gift to the people of the entire world. Not just our nation.
Lest We Ever Forget on ANZAC day.