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Honouring the fallen and their gift

Despite fears that members of the New Zealand Defence Force would not be able to carry out their full ceremonial roles at the Anzac Day dawn service at Gallipoli yesterday after their uniforms and musical instruments were lost in transit, it appears these were unfounded, thanks to what has been described as “cooperation and camaraderie” that reflects the best of the Anzac spirit.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters also seems to have made a good fist of his duties at that event, with a speech full of gravitas that began in te reo and ended with a reaffirmation of the need for diplomacy, which he asserted has “never … been more needed to deescalate conflicts and ease tensions”.

“But we must all come together, as people and as nations, to do more to honour those who paid with their lives,” Peters said.

“We must protect and care for our young.

“We must reject and resist those who seek to conquer and control.

“We must always seek the path of peace.

“Then, and only then, will the men buried here not have died in vain,” he concluded.

Whether one loves or loathes Winston, surely these sentiments are well nigh impossible to argue with.

Likewise, the speech of 17-year-old Rotorua Boys’ High School head boy Jared Lasike at yesterday’s Anzac Day Rotorua Civic Memorial Service.

As reported by the Rotorua Daily Post’s Kelly Makiha, Lasike spoke about his great grandfathers’ contributions during WWI and how the comradeship and sacrifice of the New Zealand troops during that conflict brought New Zealand together as never before – and seldom since.

“Everyone was united and supported the boys overseas, and the divisions were reserved for the battlefields,” he said.

“They stood as brothers to fight for us. They could see the purpose greater than themselves and put aside their petty arbitrary differences. It makes me wonder what could be accomplished if we could do the same?” Lasike wondered.

He also observed that “divisiveness seems to be the new aim of the game. Race, political beliefs, and religion are all motivators in separating our people. People are more concerned with being correct and proving a point… This is where we can learn more from our ancestors,” before he ended with a quote from Sir Edmund Hillary: “If we can overcome ourselves, then we can climb the loftiest of mountains.”

Indeed – what better way to honour the fallen, and maimed, and their gift of freedom than for us to set aside our differences with our fellow citizens and begin working together in common purpose to finally realise the potential of the nation they bequeathed us?

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.

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