ANZAC editorials

Not surprisingly ANZAC Day is prominent in today’s newspaper editorials.

ODT: Remembering those who serve

Early today, thousands of New Zealanders will meet at war memorials throughout the country to remember soldiers and support staff who died serving their country in far-away battlefields.

Interest in Anzac Day, commemorated, celebrated and remembered in many parts of the world, has grown exponentially in recent years. It is a phenomenon. From small intimate services held in New Zealand and Australian towns, the services have grown to large gatherings involving several generations of families touched in one way or another by the wars New Zealand has been involved in. Family members proudly wear the medals of their loved ones who fought, and sometimes died, in the service of their country.

As the World War 2 veterans age, their numbers are replaced by men and women who served in Asian campaigns. Being a veteran from Vietnam has not always been seen as something of which to be proud. In the United States, Vietnam veterans had to continue their fight for justice after the war became so demonised. In New Zealand, acceptance has become easier.

Soldiers do not often get a choice about where they serve and it is fitting, as a country, New Zealand can openly acknowledge the pain and suffering of many veterans from campaigns stretching from Europe, the Middle East through to Asia and Afghanistan.

Dominion Post: On Anzac Day we also mourn for Turkish democracy

New Zealand and Turkey have a special Anzac bond. The conflict that divided them at Gallipoli now brings them together each year. Anzac Day celebrations in Turkey usually attract thousands of New Zealanders who receive a warm welcome there.

Gallipoli played an important part too in the development of both countries. It is sometimes said that the New Zealand experience at Gallipoli and the Western front in World War 1 helped make us an independent nation. In the fires of war we supposedly forged a new sense of our country and its strengths. There is at least some truth in this.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who once visited New Zealand, is now a clear threat to Turkish democracy. He has become a despotic populist in the mould of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, who observes the forms of democracy while subverting its deepest values.

Erdogan has preyed on his country’s fears – of refugees, terrorists and an over-powerful army – and has as a result merely heightened the violence that now marks everyday life in Turkey.

The demagogue is the true enemy of democracy, because he undermines everything central to it: human rights, respect for minorities, the rule of law and the necessity of checks and balances.

Today’s Anzac-Turkish commemorations in Gallipoli take place under the threat of terrorist attack in a country that is splintering.

That is a tragedy which will reverberate in New Zealand on this special day.

The Press: We must support our war veterans of all ages

We remember the dead on Anzac Day today, but the poppies that we wear were sold to raise funds for the living – to provide support for veterans needing help.

New Zealand has about 31,000 veterans of operational military service overseas and about two-thirds of them served after the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975.

They served in deployments, and on peacekeeping and aid missions, in places as diverse as Iraq and Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia and Kosovo, the former Rhodesia, Namibia, Sinai, Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique, Somalia, Haiti, Rwanda, Laos, Korea, East Timor, Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Sudan, Lebanon and Syria.

New Zealand on Anzac Day should acknowledge its debt not only to the fallen of wars long past, but also to its veterans still living, old and young. They and the organisations dedicated to helping them deserve the support of the wider community.

Anzac Day, with all its symbolism and acknowledged importance in the story of our nation, loses some of its meaning if this support is not forthcoming. This needs to be an ongoing commitment – the old soldiers’ ranks may be thinning, but younger generations will need help into the future.

It is also important for the younger veterans to know and feel that they are deserving of that support and to not hesitate to ask for help when the going gets tough.

Southland Times: Warfare will keep testing our morality

Warfare can bring out the best in our military, through feats of heroism and mateship. But it is such a hideous, arbitrary business that mistakes, misjudgments and misdeeds can be evoked from decent but fallible men and women.

This year’s Anzac Day comes in the wake of the book Hit & Run which makes the accusation, denied by the Defence Force, that a retaliatory raid in Afghanistan was ill-disciplined, indulgent, and achieved only the death of innocents.

That book starts with the sentence: “In any Anzac Day, someone is sure to talk about honour.”

And it ends like this; “The real message of Anzac Days should be that we do not want to make the same dreadful and unnecessary mistakes over and over again. Facing up to wrongdoing is part of making them less likely to recur. Honour is not about ceremonies, bugles and ribbons. It is about trying to adhere to moral principles and stand up to wrong, especially when it would be easier not to. It requires a special kind of courage.”

Whatever we individually make of the book’s specific contentions and the responses, that last sentiment it holds true.

NZ Herald: Anzac Day issues its enduring call

A centenary of a long war helps us imagine what it must have been like.

Most of us alive today can only imagine what it was like to live through the world wars of last century. It is easier, thanks to books and movies, to imagine the lives of those in combat than for those at home, reading delayed and usually censored news from the battlefronts, seeing the wounded return, dreading the arrival of a grim telegram, trying to say something helpful to those who have received one, living under the shadow of a long war that is taking the lion’s share of the country’s production and so many young lives.

I can’t come close to imagining what it might have been like in any war.

My father missed most of World War 2, serving in Italy at the end of the war (and later in J Force, he brought back a photo of Hiroshima). He said little about his experiences, but told me once about doing sentry duty outside a farmhouse in northern Italy and feeling scared shitless (I don’t recall his exact description) in the dark hearing gun fire in the distance.

He was also involved in the stand off with Yugoslavia in Trieste, where he was billeted in a private home, and took a rifle with him to the movies.

It is coming up 72 years since the second war ended, long enough to believe we will never see war on such a scale again. The weapon that ended the war in the Pacific ensured the major powers maintained an armed peace thereafter but their proxy wars have been threatening enough. The first of them, in Korea, still simmers and poses a challenge to relations between the United States and China today.

But it is not fear or anticipation of being drawn into another war that brings New Zealanders and Australians to their war memorials today. It is quite the opposite, a sense of gratitude that the wars their grandparents won have left an enduring peace.

I’m not sure about all this. Since World War 2 New Zealanders have served in Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia (1,300 served there), Afghanistan, Iraq. Also other places around the world, often as peacekeepers.

I’m not confident the world will avoid another major conflict. There are already multiple countries involved in rising tensions around Korea, and in the ongoing and unresolved mess of the Middle East, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.

There may never be the number of people called on to serve for their countries.

But there is plenty of scope for and risk of widespread death and destruction around the world.

The nuclear risk always hovers over us menacingly. A major nuclear conflict, no matter where it may be centred (or it could be widely scattered), will impact severely on the whole world.

Nuclear war is unlikely to last anywhere near as long as the world wars of last century, and it won’t require many soldiers, but it’s impact could be easily as devastating, if not more so.

Leave a comment

16 Comments

  1. Hager and Stevenson have got it in one IMHO …

    “The real message of Anzac Days should be that we do not want to make the same dreadful and unnecessary mistakes over and over again”

    “By the time the [Gallipoli] campaign ended, more than 130,000 men had died: at least 87,000 Ottoman soldiers and 44,000 Allied soldiers, including more than 8700 Australians. Among the dead were 2779 New Zealanders, about a sixth of all those who had landed on the peninsula.”

    Later today I’ll be watching ‘Long Shadow’ on Netflix … Historian David Reynolds outlines [in 3 episodes] WW1’s long shadow of influence and the century-old conflict’s surprising impact on current events …

    Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  25th April 2017

        It’s extraordinary that it was only 21 years after WWI ended that WWII began. Bloody Germans. I can’t believe that they were given a helping hand after it-I’d have let the buggers starve, they asked for it.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  25th April 2017

          your knowledge of history is very …limited.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  25th April 2017

            Yours is, you mean. 1939-1918=21.

            The Germans were given help after the war. How do you think that they made such a recovery ? Sheer good luck or their own cleverness ? Look it up. .

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  25th April 2017

              the reparations demanded after the Versailles Treaty,the Weimar Republic,inflation,sanctions and unemployment laid the foundations for..the Nazis rise to ..power.Don’t know what ‘help’ you are on about!

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  26th April 2017

              The Marshall Plan. You are confusing two wars.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  25th April 2017

            Look up the Marshall Plan. The Germans caused the devastation of Europe, killed millions, destroyed and laid waste wherever they went and were then the recipients of some of the money raised to alleviate this devastation when they were beaten.

            Reply
        • Watch ‘Long Shadow’ Miss Kitty … It may give you a somewhat different perspective.

          Something along the lines of, “the frenzy of nationalism after WW1, with hastily drawn boundaries merely ratified at Versailles – greatly exacerbating ethnic tensions in newly formed states like Czechoslavakia and Poland – would lead directly to the great conflict between liberal democracy, communism and fascism … the three fundamental political forms this nationalism took …

          US President Woodrow Wilson said ‘The Great War’ made the world safe for democracy … British PM Stanley Baldwin wanted to make democracy safe for the world …

          And the age-old war cycle between Germany and France was only finally overcome with the formation of the EU …

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  26th April 2017

            I am aware of that, thank you. I was referring to the shortness of time-it was a casual remark and it’s been made so much of that I wish that I hadn’t bothered. 21 years IS a short time. Let’s not make a great big issue out of it.

            Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  26th April 2017

            I have many history books in the house, a number relating to this era.

            Anyone who has done history even at 6th form level will be aware of the causes of WWII. That doesn’t mean that the time between the wars wasn’t short. You are surely not so young that, to you, 21 years is a long time.

            Reply
  2. Lurcher1948

     /  25th April 2017

    Tuned into NewsTalkZB to listen to the ANZAC events and the tossers said we are crossing to auckland domain, then to CHCH then on to Dunedin.The RIGHTWING ZB missed out the CAPITAL WELLINGTON where the national war memorial is due to the fact the Herald owns them and the DOMINION is the capital’s newspaper.I changed over to RadioLIVE a far better station, NewsTalkZB SUCKS RUBBISH hosts they employ female kickers and RABID trump lovers…aah that feels good posting this,

    Reply
  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  25th April 2017

    I didn’t go this year, I have a stinking cold-the first of the season, but not the last, I fear. Living in isolation means that one tends to catch every bug that’s around, damn it.

    I am lucky enough to have a 1916 War News and a postcard with a photo of the King visiting the trenches, sent by someone who had been there. They should be in a museum-the Waiouru one ? (stuggles with selfish wish to keep them) I also have the oddest little novel-An Anzac’s Bride-pure melodrama, not great literature (to put it mildly) but a little curiosity. The writer was Mrs Patrick (MacGill ? some name like that, can’t be bothered to go and look) whose husband was a well-known writer of the time.

    I have some magazines from during and just after WWII-rather fragile. They are marvellous little time capsules. My copy of A Shropshire Lad was printed in the war. it shows a nice sense of priorities. Alas, the dust jacket was crumbling away and could only be preserved with (horrors, but it was unavoidable) Duraseal.

    Reply
  4. Kitty Catkin

     /  25th April 2017

    The protest would have been better on another day and without the bloodied poppy-it will have antagonised people unnecessarily. It’s well-meaning, but this is not the time or the place-and the poppy should, I think, not have been used for this.

    Reply
  5. I really like the idea of Peace Vigils – which happened in some places here yesterday – and White Poppies, which I have heard are popular in Canada …

    “The Canadians are fearless …” (RAF Officer at Juno Beach, D-Day)

    Reply
  6. I would like to send out a cheerio to my great mate and fellow graduate of RMC Duntroon ,Captain Tony Danelinko mid (Posthumous), Australian SAS who was killed in action on ANZAC Day 1968 in Vietnam. Tony was a White Russian whose family migrated to Australia during WW2. He and I were in the same section and had adjoining rooms at RMC for 3 years. He was an Australian Special Forces officer seconded to ARVN, and was left alone to defend himself by the SVN troops he was mentoring, who were retreated and hsubsequently killed by the attacking North Vietnam Forces. RIP Anatoli, We will remember them.

    Reply

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