ANZAC Day brings home the truth of service and sacrifice

File Photo of ANZAC Day Dawn Service in Wellington

Venkat Raman
Auckland, April 25, 2023

Australia and New Zealand will remember today (April 25, 2023) the people who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations to protect us and our countries.

At dawn, communities around New Zealand gathered together at cenotaphs and memorials halls in remembrance and reflection.

The word ‘Anzac’ is a part of the culture of New Zealanders and Australians.

When Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, it was committing not only its own men but those of its Empire. The five ‘Dominions,’ namely, Australia, Canada, Newfoundland (which joined with Canada in 1949), New Zealand and South Africa, were self-governing but had no power over foreign policy. Most entered the war willingly, proud to go to the aid of the empire, often pictured as a lion with its cubs.

But as the war dragged on and their young men died in droves, they pressed for more say in its conduct and, after it ended, more control over their destinies. The men who came home often found that fighting for Britain had, paradoxically, made them feel more distant from it. A century later, many historians see the first world war as the former dominions’ ‘War of Independence.”

Rekindling the National Spirit

As former MP Peter Dunne wrote, “In the wake of another ANZAC Day and the rekindling of national spirit it always engenders, it is timely to consider our current relationships with those whom we have joined historically in the struggle for what we now routinely describe as the liberties and freedoms we enjoy today.”

The Administrator of the New Zealand government Helen Winkelmann said that Anzac Day provides us with an opportunity to acknowledge those bonds, and to pay our respects to all who have served our country in conflicts around the world: from the South African War to Korea, Malaya, Vietnam – and, more recently, in places such as Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands, and Afghanistan – our service personnel have followed in the footsteps of their forebears with pride.

“Our National War Memorial here in Wellington was built at a time when the country was coming to terms with the profound impacts of the First World War. Today, these grounds provide a space to honour all who have served our nation, and to contemplate how conflict has played a role in shaping modern New Zealand,” she said, speaking at the Dawn Service in Wellington.

She said that facing the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, the cloaked figure of Hinerangi stands weeping, not only for those we have lost but also for all those around the world who have been displaced by war or are forced to live their lives in its shadow.

“Over time, Pukeahu (Mt Cook) has come to include memorials to some of those countries who have shared in our military history. From the Turkish Memorial with its stones from the beaches of Gallipoli – to the Pacific Islands Memorial evoking the conch shell left in the Arras Tunnels by Cook Island soldiers of the New Zealand Tunnelling Company – we are reminded of the enduring bonds forged during times of hardship and loss,” she said.

Our Forces overseas

Ms Winkelmann said that our thoughts are with members of the New Zealand Defence Force serving overseas, including those deployed to Europe to train Ukrainian soldiers.

“We also extend our sincerest gratitude to our Defence Force and emergency response personnel who have supported communities to recover from the devastating effects of Cyclone Gabrielle. This morning, we pay tribute to all our veterans around New Zealand. We acknowledge the sacrifice made by those who lost their lives during wartime, and we join in veterans’ remembrance of their comrades who are no longer with us. We are reminded too of the lasting impact that conflict has had on our veterans and their whānau through generations,” she said.

Ms Winkelmann said that every Anzac Day, we remember and pay tribute to the extraordinary courage and selflessness shown by all those who have served their fellow New Zealanders at home and abroad.

“And as we pay our respects this morning, let us also reaffirm our commitment to a future where we may all live freely, in dignity and peace. We are also honoured to be joined by our veterans and your families here this morning,” she said.

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