Wanganui Chronicle

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ANZAC Day is a day we as New Zealanders must never forget.

On this day we commemorate the landing of New Zealand and Australian troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 25 April, 1915 during the First World War. The cove at which the Anzacs came ashore now bears their name.

On Anzac Day we gather to remember and to reflect. We owe it to those who died then and to all those who have subsequently contributed to the defence of our nation.

This day, and the red poppy of Flanders' Fields, serve as a reminder and as a symbol of our loss.

Of course this year is extra poignant as we commemorate the 100-year anniversary of Gallipoli.

Provincial New Zealand was hit hard by this conflict. Many Rangitikei towns have their own cenotaphs honouring those who fought and lost their lives. The fact that the armed forces continue to play an important part in our region today is further cause to take time out to recognise and appreciate their contribution.

This year I'm looking forward to starting my day in Forest Rd near Bulls at a Memorial Service for Bess, who is one of the thousands of horses New Zealand sent offshore in World War I.

She is also one of only four who made it home and her memorial has come to represent all of the horses that served overseas.

From Bulls Sue and I are heading to Halcombe to attend their 100-year commemorations, which are being organised by the Halcombe Community Development Group.

In the afternoon we're attending a very special unveiling in Bulls to commemorate the lives of members of the Fraser family who were killed in active service in the Boer war, Malaya and the First and Second World Wars.

One hundred years ago our country's sacrifice was so great and the Anzac contribution so distinct that New Zealand as a nation came of age.

In the face of fierce opposition New Zealanders demonstrated loyalty, courage, determination, initiative and compassion.

They earned the respect of their allies and their adversaries.

Our nation and our soldiers did their duty, though it was a terrible price to pay for such a small country. Of the 14,720 New Zealanders who served at Gallipoli, 2721 died in active service and 4852 were wounded.

On Anzac Day we pay tribute to all the men and women of our armed forces. Especially in our thoughts this year are those serving overseas.

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is currently supporting a number of major operations around the world.

There are over 468 NZDF personnel deployed on 11 operations and UN missions across 12 countries including Afghanistan, Antarctica, South Korea, the Middle East, Sinai and South Sudan.

In light of conflicts around the world, it is particularly important to remember the belief of the Anzacs that they were fighting so their children and grandchildren could live in freedom and peace.

I hope you will do your best to take part in one of the many take part in one of the many things happening in our region in recognition of this special day.

We will remember them.