Ruapehu Press

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

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 to 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 a recognition of all our servicemen and women who have served and continue to serve in various conflicts and peacekeeping efforts across the globe.

Remembrance services will once again be held throughout the country, with the national service being held at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington.

Rangitikei and indeed Taumarunui, Raetihi and Ohakune have a proud history of Anzac commemoration services and over the years I have noticed a steady increase in the numbers attending.

In particular, the number of families and young people is encouraging.

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 6,000 of our soldiers were wounded and 2,000 were killed.

The contribution that New Zealand made in France during the First World War in 1916 will be commemorated overseas across all three of our armed services - Army, Navy and Air Force.

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 World War I.

It is also an important time to contemplate the price of war and the continuing role of our armed forces in brokering peace.

We owe a debt of gratitude to both those who have served our country and those who continue to do so to protect the ideals we hold dear.

Lest we forget.