The 25th of April is ANZAC Day; the day that New Zealanders and Australians remember the sacrifice of so many young men and women in past conflicts. For me this is probably one of the most important days in the year; how do you thank so many men and women for their efforts to make this world a better place for future generations.
World War 1 and 2 took many New Zealanders overseas for the first time; I imagine many anticipating a great adventure however what they encountered was something very different. The numbers are startling when you see the number of New Zealanders whom lost their lives and you come to realise how many parents never saw their children again –
World War 1 – More than 120,000 men and women served (The NZ population in 1914 was just over a million) and from this conflict we lost around 18,500 Kiwis. (Statistics from the NZ History website)
World War 2 – Around 140,000 NZ men and women served (the NZ population in 1940 was approx 1,600,000) and from this conflict we lost 11,928 Kiwis. The post war calculations state that New Zealand’s ratio of killed per million of population (at 6684) was the highest in the Commonwealth.
The soldiers that returned back home must have carried some of the deepest scars possible from surviving the war however they shaped New Zealand into the great country it is today.
We live in a world with so many problems that are simmering away which at some point I feel will boil over. For me, I no longer think “if” there will be another World War but actually “when”. I hope we never see another World War however to do this the world needs to work on unity and acceptance.
Kemal Ataturk delivered a speech at the Gallipoli battlefields and I find these words so moving.
“Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours,
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well”.
Over the last few years I have visited a few of the Commonwealth War Graves and I wanted to take this opportunity to share some photos since we are so close to ANZAC Day.
The German War Memorial at Tobruk, Libya
El Alamein, Egypt
“We will remember them”