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.
Remembrance services will once again be held across the country, with the national service being held at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington. This year I will be attending the Te Awamutu RSA Dawn Service, and afterwards making my way to Raglan for the midday Raglan RSA Service and Parade. You can find your local service by searching on the RSA website.
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.
I encourage you all to reflect on our country’s experience of war and military conflict and to 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.