Anzac Day – #StandAtDawn

Anzac Day 2019

While it’s worth remembering the sacrifices of wares last century, one of them now over a hundred years ago, and remembering the relations that many of us had who were involved in both World Wars as well as other wars, perhaps it’s time we moved the focus more to the present and the future.

We are very unlikely to see repeats of the large number of boys and men sent into battle, often wantonly and needlessly.

But the same mentality of mostly if not exclusively men abusing power by ordering death and destruction seems to be  all to prevalent. We may be just one bad decision away from a world catastrophe.

So while learning from the past we need to apply those lessons to changed times and a changed world.

We should reach out to our neighbours and all our fellow Kiwis, learn to show more love, more understanding, and more tolerance of differences.

We shouldn’t just sit waiting, dreading what some stupid bastards may inflict on the world.  We should be thinking of how we can reduce the risks.

Sure we should remember the red poppies representing blood spilled in historic wars.

But we should look more to the white poppies of peace.


Cancellations of Anzac Day services in Auckland

I have mixed feelings about the cancellations and consolidations of Anzac Day services. If the Police have genuine concerns about security and what levels of protection they can provide then there may be some justification, but we should as much as possible resist letting the Christchurch mosque attacks affect our normal lives and events.

Most of the cancellations seem to be in Auckland.

Stuff: 58 Anzac Day services cancelled in Auckland, but services across rest of country will go ahead

Two-thirds of Auckland’s Anzac Day services have been canned in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shootings.

There would be just 26 services across the region, down from 84 in 2018, Auckland Council said on Tuesday evening.

Decisions to cancel or consolidate services had been made following discussions with the police and the Returned and Services Association.

Police Superintendent Kathryn Malthus said there was “no information to suggest a specific risk to public safety at this time”.

So are some people being over-cautious or overreacting?

However, the Returned and Services Association’s headquarters in Wellington was unaware of any services outside Auckland being cancelled.

RSA marketing and communications manager Shane Wratt said safety and security had been discussed with police nationwide.

However, Auckland was a “different beast” due to its population and the number of small services that took place on Anzac Day, Wratt said.

With a lot of small services it makes it easier to combine some of them.

RSAs running smaller services were told it may not be possible to have police coverage and it was recommended they consolidate services with ones that were nearby, he said.

“We’ve been in conversations with police for some time and we’ve had collaborative conversations – we’re talking to experts who are giving us their opinions – but it’s up to RSAs to make the call,” Wratt said.

Wratt believed Auckland RSAs were taking a “sensible approach” to Anzac Day events as the most important thing was for people to feel safe, he said.

“It’s a different world.”

In Auckland anyway. ironically, Christchurch Anzac Day services seem to be largely unaffected.

A Muslim prayer too far?

My first reaction to this was ‘too far’ for sure, but as I thought it through doubts arose.

I think that Muslim prayers were entirely appropriate after the Christchurch mosque massacres. They were often alongside Christian prayers and prayers from other religions in a coming together in common purposes of grief and condemnation.

But is including a Muslim prayer at Anzac Day taking it too far?

Possibly – but it should be remembered that the British attack at Gallipoli that New Zealand took part in was against Muslims and a Muslim country.

New Zealanders are allowed to go and commemorate Anzac Day in Turkey at events organised by Turkey, a largely Muslim country, alongside New Zealanders and Australians.

If Turkish representatives came to Anzac services in New Zealand would they be banned from any Muslim prayers?

NZ Herald:  Muslim prayer at Anzac Day service upsets RSA veterans

That headline is misleading – there have been mixed reactions from RSA veterans.

A decision to invite a Muslim cleric to say a prayer at an Anzac Day service has sparked an anguished backlash from veterans.

The Returned and Services Association (RSA) branch at Titahi Bay near Wellington has moved the Muslim prayer from its 6am dawn service to its 10am civic ceremony after some veterans said the dawn service should remember only NZ and Australian soldiers who have died in wars.

The backlash has exposed sensitive emotions around a sacred day in the New Zealand calendar as the nation struggles to become more “inclusive” after 50 Muslims were shot dead in the Christchurch mosque massacre.

Vietnam veteran Dave Brown, a former manager of the nearby Porirua RSA, emailed the Titahi Bay branch protesting against its initial decision to invite Newlands Mosque imam Mohamed Zewada to say a prayer at its dawn service on Titahi Bay Beach.

“What took place in Christchurch was shocking and we all agree that it was completely out of order in every way,” Brown said.

“I believe that the appropriate measures have been taken to recognise that and to show the Muslim community that they are part of us and we are part of them.

“Anzac Day came about to recognise all those who went overseas and served their country and returned, and those who never returned. That is the significance and the only justification for Anzac Day, and I feel it should stay that way.”

Anzac Day in New Zealand has certainly focussed on New Zealanders who served in the word wars, and especially those who died serving their country.

But there is also significant New Zealand participation in commemorations in Gallipoli. Are Muslim prayers allowed there? Are Christian prayers allowed?

This event at Gallipoli is organised jointly by the Australian, New Zealand and Turkish governments

Simon Strombom, a veteran of the more recent Afghanistan war and organiser of the Titahi Bay service, said he was shocked at some comments on the club’s Facebook page after he announced that the Muslim community “will conclude the ceremony this year with a prayer from the Koran”.

Anzac Day has widened to include more recent New Zealand military involvement in wars, like Vietnam and Afghanistan (another Muslim country).

Brendon Walton from New Plymouth posted: “The Titahi Bay Club, well, you’re completely disrespecting New Zealand culture on a day that is uniquely shared between us and Australia.”

Peter Downie, a veteran of the Malaya war who now lives in Cambridge, posted to another RSA site saying: “Dawn service is to honour the Anzacs. Anything else can be done at civic services.”

Malaysia is another Muslim country.

Strombom said he deleted some other comments.

“I did get some quite aggressive hate mail and emails to the website,” he said.

“That disappointed me because I think NZ soldiers, particularly in operations, have always been very adaptive and very culturally sensitive.”

As a major in Afghanistan, Strombom was in command of several Muslim soldiers and he noted that more people died in a few minutes in Christchurch than all 37 Kiwis who died in the Vietnam War.

“What is the difference between that and an IRA bomb that kills a soldier?” he asked.

“The world has changed, but when you start drawing lines and saying these are the good guys and these are the bad guys, we get the problems we had in Christchurch.”

Auckland RSA president Graham Gibson…

…said a Navy padre would say a prayer at the dawn service in front of the War Memorial Museum which is expected to be attended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. He said Anzac Day was separate from remembering the Christchurch mosque victims.

“We shouldn’t mix the two events,” he said.

“We have traditionally been a Christian country in terms of our services and that type of thing. Obviously we are a multicultural country now so it’s up to individual RSAs, but they are two separate events.”

Wellington RSA president Theo Kuper…

…said the NZ Defence Force traditionally provided a military chaplain for the Wellington dawn service which Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy is expected to attend.

“I don’t think the NZ Defence Force has a Muslim imam,” he said.

RSA national president B J Clark…

…said in a message to his national executive that there had been many events to remember the mosque victims and “there should be no intention or need to make our Anzac services another one of these”.

“However, given the proximity of these events to Anzac Day 2019 and the significant impact this has had throughout our country, it may seem appropriate to local organisers to acknowledge these during this years Anzac Day ceremonies,” he said.

“Our communities are diverse and Anzac Day organisers have always tailored ceremonies to match their community and their local history. This year is no different.

“In your town and city, you are the stewards of Anzac remembrance, we trust you to make this call and as always, believe you will do so in the respect and spirit of our Anzac tradition.”

New Zealand casualties at Gallipoli:

  • 2,779 died
  • 5,212 wounded

Australian casualties at Gallipoli:

  • 8,709 died
  • 19,441 wounded

Ottoman casualties at Gallipoli:

  • 86,692 died
  • 164,617 wounded

Many Anzac soldiers at Gallipoli will have been Christian.

Many Ottoman soldiers at Gallipoli will have been Muslim.

Aren’t prayers appropriate for all of them?

The Anzac tradition has changed over the years. Is including a Muslim prayer at one event a change to far?

Is this the future of Australia?

Some people and groups of people try to take things too far.

And some people and groups of people over-react.

There’s no way the Aussies can take away our ANZAC Day.

ANZAC Day 2018

25th April 2018 – ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day began as a mark of respect of the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers (Australia and New Zealand Army Corp) at Gallipoli in 1915. It was first marked in 1916, but since then has widened into a commemoration of Word War 1, World War 2 and all New Zealand military action overseas.

Most of us have relations who took part in the World Wars and other hostilities, and this is a good time to reflect on what they had to do and how many of them must have suffered – some paying the ultimate price, others returning with physical injuries and many with mental scars.

The post war generations are lucky to live in a time when there has been no compulsion to take part in armed conflict – the luckiest generations in human history

This post is for remembrance, family stories or whatever you feel is appropriate for the occasion.

ANZAC Day protests

Alison Mau write about: Anzac Day – a time for protest or quiet reflection?

Free speech versus the right to a peaceful commemoration of our sacred day. Which one to choose?

The video of 12-year-old James Broome-Isa’s tirade against the protesters at the Wellington Cenotaph on Anzac Day was hard to watch. Visceral, even.

I don’t like critiquing people’s parenting, and I won’t in this case. I know I would have looked with patience and perhaps with pride on a child of mine who’d offered their considered opinion in that situation; after a minute though, I would have called a halt to the shouting and ushered the child away. That’s just me.

And I get where James was coming from. I’m amazed and warmed by the way Kiwis have embraced Anzac Day in the past couple of decades.

Here, we see young people marching with the veterans in solemn pride, wearing the medals of their grandfathers and great grandfathers.

The amazement part is because it wasn’t a

New Zealand RSA President BJ Clark told me it’s been much the same for a couple of generations of Kiwis; no-one was taught the history of New Zealanders at war for a long stretch (it’s worth noting that the New Zealand Wars still don’t figure on the curriculum).

Now the young people are leading the way, he says; the swelling crowds at 268 Anzac Day ceremonies around the country are a direct result of educating young Kiwis about the sacrifices made by their ancestors.

Should we be condoning protest on Anzac Day, then? Perhaps unsurprisingly, Clark says no. Politics has no place on that day, he says, or at that place.

“Our place,” is how he repeatedly referred to the Cenotaph. Our day. A day to remember those killed in wars across the world.

The protest in Wellington was silent and mild, for sure, but more particularly, he says, this is a day for returned service people to remember those they served alongside. Those people do not need the distraction of a protest on their day of remembrance.

Clark admits though, that protest and the right to speak our minds is exactly what generations of Kiwis have gone to war to protect. He mentions this several times, and understands that, well, there’s the rub.

Yep, there’s the rub.

When I initially saw the young guy admonishing the protesters for it being inappropriate on ANZAC Day I agreed.

But when I thought more about it I found that I also agreed with the right of the protesters to peacefully make their point, whether I agreed with it or not.

ANZAC Day has changed a lot over my lifetime. My father was one of the younger returned servicemen when I used to go on marches and sit through speeches at the town hall, then went home not to see my Dad for the rest of the day. But he’s been dead for 17 years, and there are very few of his fellows from the RSA still alive.

Those who have served later have been allowed to participate. Vietnam vets were contentious but were eventually deemed to be deserving of recognition too.

Why not also commemorate the civilian victims of wars? Often many more of them die and suffer than soldiers, and they are largely innocent victims.

Peace protests and conscientious objections have also been important aspects of wars.

Whether I agree with their message or not peaceful and respectful protest should be an acceptable part of ANZAC Day events. There is no set definition of what should be said or done, and nor should there be.

Blogs on ANZAC Day

David Farrar has a very sobering reminder of the size of war casualties in Lest we forget:

  • 1914 – 1918 WWI – 17 million killed
  • 1917 – 1921 Russian Civil War – 6.7 million killed
  • 1927 – 1949 Chinese Civil War – 8 million killed
  • 1936 – 1939 Spanish Civil War – 700k killed
  • 1939 – 1945 WWII – 60 million killed
  • 1950 – 1953 Korean War – 1.3 million killed
  • 1954 – 1962 Algerian War – 700k killed
  • 1955 – 1975 Vietnam War – 1.5 million killed
  • 1966 – 1970 Nigerian Civil War – 1.7 million killed
  • 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War 300k killed
  • 1980 – 1988 Iran-Iraq War – 600k killed
  • 1983 – 2005 Second Sudanese Civil War – 1.4 million killed
  • 1998 – 2003 Second Congo War – 3.6 million killed
  • 1979 – 2000 Afghanistan War – 2.6 million killed
  • 2001 – 2013 War on Terror – 600k killed

WWI saw 42% of New Zealand men (of fighting age) serving in the NZ Forces. 103,000 served, 17,000 died and 41,000 were wounded.

Both my grandfathers served in WW1, although one was as a British soldier (and was seriously injured). Two great-uncles were killed in action.

Quiet at The Standard so far on Anzac Day.

Lest we forget.

There is a list of Anzac Day services here, and a list of peace vigils here.

An appropriate day to contemplate “the meaning of honour”.

The Daily Blog: TDB will livestream alternative ANZAC Day commemorations 11am Tuesday

Auckland Peace Action are hosting an alternative ANZAC Day service 11am from the Band Rotunda at the Auckland Domain.

That was well down their dog’s breakfast home page.

Whale Oil has started off just about exclusively ANZAC orientated:

Cameron Slater: This is my ANZAC Day trib­ute post­ing. ANZAC Day means a great deal for me and my fam­ily. I sup­pose it is because we have a con­nec­tion to the orig­i­nal ANZACS in 1915 and Gal­lipoli and to a vet­eran of a war much fresher in our minds, Viet Nam.


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.

ANZAC Day 2017

25 April 2017

We all have our own ways of doing ANZAC Day and remembering those New Zealanders (and Australians) who served and died overseas in the two World Wars as well as in other conflicts.

Post what you remember and feel about ANZAC Day here.

(This is a pre-ANZAC post that will be carried forward tomorrow)


Missy posted about a visit to Ypres in Belgium last August:

Past ANZAC Day posts:

“New Zealand Soldier” became the “OFFICIAL SONG” of “THE NEW ZEALAND ARMY”.
Dedicated to all those Men and Women who served in the First and Second World Wars and whom are currently serving in the New Zealand Armed Forces: