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.
Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served” It is, I believe, the most important day of the year for most Kiwis. But what it means does vary from person to person.From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_Day
I have mixed feelings about ANZAC Day. While, like most Kiwis, I consider it a day of remembrance, I along with an increasing number, find that the day adds weight to the futility of war. In this respect, I think there is a growing gap between Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia about the significance of the day. From my observation, in Australia, the day is also one of growing national pride, whereas here it is much less so. But keep in mind, this is purely a personal perspective.
ANZAC day traditionally starts with a Dawn Service held in every town in the nation. Last year the event was curtailed somewhat as it came so soon after the Christchurch shootings and due to security concerns, but this year, an even greater threat, COVID-19, has seen the cancellation of all services.
Instead, we were encouraged to “Stand at dawn” at our gates, entrances, porches and balconies. So shortly before dawn, I made my way down our driveway to the entrance of our property, and stood “Apart, but together as one” with many, but by no means all, of the households in our cul-de-sac. It was too dark to see most, but the quite murmurs of nearby households could be heard while I listened to the virtual dawn service broadcast over RNZ National.
Since my father died I have made a conscious attempt to attend the Dawn service, usually in person but sometimes by listening to a service on the radio or watching it on TV or online. My father made a point of taking part in the Dawn Parade that makes up part of the dawn service.
The parade consists of Returned Services personnel (veterans) and more recently, members of their family and their descendants, and also of current service men and women, fire and emergency personnel, and other services. Those with service medals are encouraged to wear them – on the left if they are your own, or on the right if worn by a family member or descendant.
In one respect my father stood out from every other returned service man and woman. He would be the only one that didn’t display any medals on their chest. Don’t get me wrong – he did have many medals, including several for bravery, but he refused to display them. He felt that displaying them was a form of false pride. It must have taken a lot of courage on his part to have put up with the ribbing, criticism and sometimes direct insults that he received every year from those he had served alongside.
It is as much for my father’s steadfast standing on principles, as for any other reason, that I now observe ANZAC Day. It is also My Father’s Day.