Out of all our national holidays, of all the things that remind me how lucky I am and how proud I am to be a New Zealander, ANZAC Day is the one event that brings a tear to my eye.
Identity is sadly often forged through the senseless and bloody loss of life. My Poppa was in the Merchent Navy, my Grand Uncles — on both sides of the family — fought in Africa and Italy, my Great Grandfather fought in France in World War One.
The postcards my Great Grandfather sent home are heart wrenching to read. I’m lucky enough to have them. They’re a palpable reminder that ordinary men, willingly or not, put themselves in harms way for a perception of greater good.
I have written before about people who think ANZAC Day celebrates war. They are wrong. It celebrates ordinary men (and women) forced into extraordinary circumstance. I thank them for carrying that burden so we can live a free, democratic, and good life.
Ordinary men, like the forty nine thousand and seventy six in the the Royal Regiment of Artillery, commemorated in this memorial in Wellington Square.
Ordinary men, like the thousands that died in Gallipoli and in a thousand other far flung places that make up this memorial.
ANZAC Day reminds us of these losses. It reminds us that we can’t let the world do such violent things again. It reminds us that peaceful resolution of conflict is always the best answer. It reminds us that somethings —freedom, democracy, love, family — are worth fighting for.
That’s why I wear a poppy and celebrate ANZAC Day.